Alternative Fuel Vehicle Program: Kansas City, MO.

Alternative Fuels

Summary

The City of Kansas City, Missouri Alternative Fuel Vehicle Program focuses on greening city fleets in order to improve regional air quality.  The city currently operates 334 compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles and uses an alternative fuel or an alternative fuel blend in most of the city's 2,500 total vehicles.  Annually, the Alternative Fuel Vehicle Program results in the displacement of nearly half a million gallons of conventional gasoline and diesel.

Outcomes

The Alternative Fuel Vehicle Program has resulted in tangible operational cost savings for Kansas City.  The current cost for CNG in Kansas City is significantly less than the cost for diesel-$1.57 and $3.89 per gallon respectively-making CNG not only environmentally but also economically beneficial.  As a result, Kansas City has saved over $1 million by using alternative fuels where possible to power its fleets.  In fact, CNG represents 14.8% of the city's total fuel usage but represents only 6.58% of the city's total fuel costs. 

In addition to dramatic cost savings and direct reduction of air pollution, the Alternative Fuel Vehicle Program has been most successful because of the resulting positive spillover effects in other areas.  For example, shipping and transportation distances for the fuel products have drastically reduced because of more efficient service delivery methods and practices, contributing to a lower overall carbon footprint for the city.  Also, the program has encouraged collaboration between the city and local and regional groups.  For example, the Fleet Division, which runs this program, is part of the U.S. Department of Energy's Kansas City Regional Clean Cities Coalition, a group that researches the newest alternative fuels, applies for relevant grant opportunities to promote alternative fuel vehicles and connects local vehicle dealerships to new products in the market.  Additionally, the city works with other organizations, such as the Midwest Research Institute, to test the latest alternative fuel technologies.  Finally, the program has increased public awareness about the positive environmental impacts of clean fuels and serves as an example of the city's commitment to improving air quality.  While the greening of city fleets is an important sustainability initiative that Kansas City has taken on, it is most successful because it has been approached as one part of a much larger, holistic agenda to make Kansas City more sustainable.

Key Takeaways

  • The use of alternative fuels in city fleets can result in generous cost savings and reduction of overall emissions. 
  • There are many alternatives to traditional gasoline and diesel fuel that are better for the environment and less expensive.  Choose the alternative fuel type(s) that make the most sense given the resources available in your city/region.
  • Greening city fleets is a tangible way to educate residents on the positive environmental effects of lowering dependence on fossil fuels and to demonstrate the city's commitment to doing so.
  • This program has created local jobs. All of the CNG components and tanks used by Kansas City are made in the United States, and the conversions were done in Missouri and Texas.  By identifying and capitalizing on local resources, cities can help grow local economies by creating green jobs.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Sam Swearngin
Fleet Administrator, City of Kansas City 
General Services, Central Fleet Division
sam.swearngin@kcmo.org

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