Morris considers converting vehicles to propane

Would run 60-day test with police squad car before deciding

Published: Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013 10:03 a.m. CDT

The city of Morris is researching the possibility of converting its vehicles to run on propane in order to be greener and save money.

The Street and Alley Committee Tuesday approved authorizing Mayor Richard Kopczick to review a bid that will come from Dibble Trucking of Gardner on converting one police squad car for a 60-day trial.

Ronald Dibble and Paul Prewitt of Dibble Trucking presented to the committee the benefits of propane-run vehicles, which includes that the cost of propane is half the cost per gallon of gasoline, said Kopczick Wednesday.

They presented a system from Campbell-Parnell, which specializes in the distribution and installation of conversion systems to corporate and government fleets.

“With this system, the engine starts on gasoline and when it hits a certain temperature it automatically switches to propane,” said Kopczick. “The nice thing is you can turn the propane off and use gasoline or turn the propane on.”

So if the vehicle is running low on propane, you can switch it to gasoline until you can refill the propane, he added.

The system is not vehicle specific, which means with minor adjustments it can work on any type of vehicle. And when it comes time to get rid of the vehicle, the conversion system can be removed and the vehicle returned to a gas-only vehicle.

If decided, Dibble will install a system for a trial period on one of the squad cars at no cost other than the propane the squad uses, said Kopczick. If the city does the trial, it will review the data after the 60 days and decide whether it is worth doing or not. If not, the system is simply removed.

If, after the trial period the city decides to move forward with converting its vehicles, the purchase and installation would be about $6,000 a vehicle. The vehicles would be converted on a long-term basis of maybe a few a year.

In the first year of having a converted vehicle, it will pay for itself, said the mayor.

After that, the city will be saving money on gasoline and maintenance costs to the vehicles, as well as going green.

If this does turn into a project the city wants to undertake, it will look into getting some of its employees certified on the system so they can install the system themselves, saving on installation costs.

“(Between all the city departments) we have a substantial amount of vehicles and can really save a lot of money on gasoline,” he said.

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