Hamilton County planning to test CNG-fueled vehicles

March 10, 2014
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Faced with double-digit increases in annual utility costs—and the promise of more to come—Hamilton County has been trying to make its 31 buildings more efficient. Before long, it could start producing some power of its own.

As IBJ reported this week, county commissioners are working on a plan to install rooftop solar panels on public buildings. (Subscribers: Catch up here.) But they’re also looking to take their energy-savings efforts on the road.

If County Council approves the expenditure, officials hope to begin converting county-owned vehicles to run on compressed natural gas. It doesn’t take a mathematician to see the benefit of filling tanks for less than $1 a gallon.

It costs about $6,000 to retrofit a gasoline-fed vehicle to run on either fuel, said Buildings and Grounds chief Steve Wood. The biggest expense (about $1.5 million at last estimate) would be adding a CNG filling station to service the county’s fleet.

Proponents have been researching the technology for about a year, Commissioner Mark Heirbrandt said, and a formal funding request could come as soon as this month.

“We had a positive meeting” with council members who offered input on the CNG project, Heirbrandt said.

Officials have been working to cut utility costs for years as the county adjusts to state tax caps and other funding challenges. First up were LED lighting and better building-control systems. Today, commissioners are expected to vote on a contract with Indianapolis-based Johnson Melloh Solutions for about $1.3 million in equipment upgrades.

Rather than refurbish the 21-year-old Government Center chillers, for example, crews will replace them with energy-efficient air compressors. The all-electric building also will get natural gas service.

While they’re working on those projects, contractors will prepare the roof for a planned building expansion and the possible solar installation.

Wood praised the commissioners’ effort to come up with a comprehensive approach to finding utility savings.

“They’re looking at what we can do to reduce energy use, improve air quality and make the greatest impact on taxpayers,” said Wood, who also serves on the Noblesville Common Council.

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  1. Why not take some time to do some research before traveling to that Indiana town or city, and find the ones that are no smoking either inside, or have a patio? People like yourself are just being selfish, and unnecessarily trying to take away all indoor venues that smokers can enjoy themselves at. Last time I checked, it is still a free country, and businesses do respond to market pressure and will ban smoking, if there's enough demand by customers for it(i.e. Linebacker Lounge in South Bend, and Rack and Helen's in New Haven, IN, outside of Fort Wayne). Indiana law already unnecessarily forced restaurants with a bar area to be no smoking, so why not support those restaurants that were forced to ban smoking against their will? Also, I'm always surprised at the number of bars that chose to ban smoking on their own, in non-ban parts of Indiana I'll sometimes travel into. Whiting, IN(just southeast of Chicago) has at least a few bars that went no smoking on their own accord, and despite no selfish government ban forcing those bars to make that move against their will! I'd much rather have a balance of both smoking and non-smoking bars, rather than a complete bar smoking ban that'll only force more bars to close their doors. And besides IMO, there are much worser things to worry about, than cigarette smoke inside a bar. If you feel a bar is too smoky, then simply walk out and take your business to a different bar!

  2. As other states are realizing the harm in jailing offenders of marijuana...Indiana steps backwards into the script of Reefer Madness. Well...you guys voted for your Gov...up to you to vote him out. Signed, Citizen of Florida...the next state to have medical marijuana.

  3. It's empowering for this niche community to know that they have an advocate on their side in case things go awry. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lrst9VXVKfE

  4. Apparently the settlement over Angie's List "bundling" charges hasn't stopped the practice! My membership is up for renewal, and I'm on my third email trying to get a "basic" membership rather than the "bundled" version they're trying to charge me for. Frustrating!!

  5. Well....as a vendor to both of these builders I guess I have the right to comment. Davis closed his doors with integrity.He paid me every penny he owed me. Estridge,STILL owes me thousands and thousands of dollars. The last few years of my life have been spent working 2 jobs, paying off the suppliers I used to work on Estridge jobs and just struggling to survive. Shame on you Paul...and shame on you IBJ! Maybe you should have contacted the hundreds of vendors that Paul stiffed. I'm sure your "rises from the ashes" spin on reporting would have contained true stories of real people who have struggled to find work and pay of their debts (something that Paul didn't even attempt to do).

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