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Valley fleets use alternative-fuel vehicles

Southern Nevada fleet managers have a long history of experimenting with cleaner-burning fuels to promote more efficient automotive transportation in the Las Vegas Valley. Ever since the early 1990s, the Las Vegas Regional Clean Cities Coalition and its Southern Nevada Fleet Association program have encouraged fleet owners to minimize particulates and nonmethane gas emissions in vehicles while sharing best practices for fleet maintenance.

Biodiesel, GDiesel, propane, natural gas, hydrogen, ethanol and electricity have all been used as fuels by local fleet vehicles in the past 20 years. Many fleet managers developed these technologies through ongoing evaluation programs.

Thomas Industries and its Haycock Petroleum Division have specialized in alternative fuels and provided custom services to meet the needs of fleet clients in Nevada, Utah, Idaho, and California (www.haycockpetroleum.com).

Haycock tankers carry biodiesel, GDiesel, propane, natural gas and ethanol. Some of these products are distributed to the public through Sinclair service pump stations in the Las Vegas Valley.

The Natural Gas Vehicle Institute (www.ngvi.com) was founded in Las Vegas in 1989 by Leo and Annalloyd Thomason, former employees at Southwest Gas.

Over 25 years, its staff has trained more than 17,000 students worldwide about the art and science of using natural methane gas to replace gasoline and diesel fuel. Last year, the institute recruited instructor Paul Pate, an ASE master certified technician from the automotive technology department at the College of Southern Nevada, to expand its training programs.

The Natural Gas Vehicle Institute teaches automotive technicians a range of subjects that include compressed natural gas and liquefied natural gas engine technologies, storage tank composition, vehicle structures, transport techniques and distribution equipment. Permitting, inspection and safety procedures are important parts of the institute’s training seminars.

Local fleets that use compressed natural gas in their vehicles include Southwest Gas, Republic Services, Bell Transportation and MGM CityCenter limousines. The Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada and Clark County School District have implemented compressed natural gas, hybrid diesel/electric and biodiesel drive trains in their regional bus systems.

Clark County fleet manager David Johnson has been an advocate for GDiesel, a refined mix of methane gas and diesel fuel, that eliminates much of the black smoke from county diesel-fuel vehicles. Advanced Refining Concepts LLC was started by the Gunnerman family in Reno to manufacture this fuel. A company refinery in the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center has produced and sold more than 25 million gallons of GDiesel to date, mostly within Nevada.

Advanced Refining Concepts (www.clearrefining.com) is planning to open a second refinery in Southern Nevada by next fall on Sloan Road between Las Vegas Boulevard North and Interstate 15. “More like a winery than a refinery,” the patented ClearRefining catalytic process operates at a low temperature, so there is no requirement for smokestacks at the plant that could adversely affect local air quality.

GDiesel has been tested by Las Vegas and Henderson for use in their motor-pool vehicles.

NV Energy has been promoting the use of plug-in electric cars throughout the state and within its fleet vehicles. The company recently partnered with numerous commercial clients to establish a shared network of public charging stations that will provide electricity at no cost for the next five years within the urban areas of the state.

Discount “time of use” rate schedules are also available to NV Energy customers who own plug-in electric cars and recharge them at home during the night (www.nvenergy.com/ev).

From 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas will host a Festival of Communities that will include Greenfest 2014, a celebration of the efforts of the Green Alliance of Nevada to support 45 active community partner organizations (www.thinkenergystar.com/GreenFest/).

A Green Vehicle Zone will feature alternative-fuel transportation solutions from Gaudin Ford, Southwest Gas, Republic Services, NV Energy, Clark County, Las Vegas, Verdek LLC, Energie Cycles and Bombard Renewable Energy.

That morning, a Drive Clean Energy Las Vegas event will feature alternative-fuel vehicles whose owners will drive from Town Square on Las Vegas Boulevard to UNLV’s southern parking lot Tropicana Avenue from 10 to 11 a.m.

On Earth Day, April 22, Mandalay Bay Resort will celebrate a “Party for the Planet” at the Shark Reef Aquarium from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (www.sharkreef.com/visitor/calendar.aspx).

Stan Hanel has worked in the electronics industry for more than 30 years and is a longtime member of the Electric Auto Association and the Las Vegas Electric Vehicle Association. Hanel writes and edits for EAA’s “Current Events” and LVEVA’s “Watts Happening” newsletters. Contact him at stanhanel@aol.com.

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