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Solano County Greening Fleets

Case Story

County: Solano

Population: 427,837

Summary

The Solano County Low-Emission Vehicle and Fleet Policy requires the county to buy low-emission vehicles whenever practical. The county has bought over 130 green vehicles for its 480 car and light-duty vehicle fleet. It installed a 10,000 gallon above-ground storage tank for E-85 ethanol (which is 85% ethanol) and is emphasizing buying vehicles that use E-85 fuel. The county funds its green fleet program through fees charged for use of vehicles by county departments and some other public agencies.

Program Highlights

  • County Board of Supervisors approved policy requiring purchase of green vehicles where practical.
  • Emphasis on vehicles that use E-85 ethanol reduces dependence on foreign oil.
  • On-site fuel storage creates economies of scale that reduce overall costs.
  • Other public agencies, such as cities and schools in Solano County, pay fees to use the county’s fleet vehicles.
  • Approximately 28 percent of the county’s fleet are green vehicles.

Lessons Learned

  • Patience is important as implementing new ideas often involves learning to work with new and different partners.
  • Policies and procedures for implementing new ideas initially may not be fully developed, and partners and regulatory agencies may need time to adapt.
  • Securing planning and regulatory approvals for fuel storage facilities can be a lengthy process, but can provide long-term benefits.

Resources to Learn More

The Rest of the Story…

The Solano County Board of Supervisors approved the county’s Low-Emission Vehicle and Fleet Policy in 2005. The policy was adapted from a “model” policy provided by the Yolo-Solano Air Quality Management District. The county’s policy requires purchase of low-emission vehicles whenever practical and an annual report on the program’s progress. As of May 2010, 146 of the county’s 480 vehicle fleet were green vehicles. These include four neighborhood electric vehicles, 24 hybrids, and 110 E-85 ethanol fueled vehicles.

In implementing the policy, the county emphasized E-85 ethanol-fueled vehicles. It installed a 10,000 gallon above-ground storage tank for the E-85 fuel. This strategy allows the county to acquire fuel at lower and more stable rates through bulk purchase contracts, while reducing dependence on foreign sources of oil. A key issue for others considering a similar strategy is to recognize that securing the necessary planning and regulatory approvals for such a facility can be a lengthy process. For example, Solano County began developing the above ground storage facility in 2005; it became operational in 2010.

Solano County funds purchase of low-emission vehicles through its regular vehicle replacement program. Funds include fees charged for use of county vehicles by county departments. Also certain other public agencies arrange to use the county’s fleet, thus providing revenue to support the program. These “outside” agencies include the Solano Community College District, the Solano Superintendant of Public Instruction, and the cities of Dixon, Suisun, and Rio Vista.

Compiled May 2010

This case story was prepared with generous support from AAA Northern California, Nevada & Utah.

 

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