It was supposed to demonstrate that the Mayor could have his cake and eat it too — that converting a garbage truck to hybrid-electric use could reduce emissions, increase fuel efficiency and save the City money. Reality has intruded on Noam Bramson’s Green Fantasy with taxpayers, as usual, footing the bill for another failed experiment by Boy Blunder.
A DPW vendor report, submitted to the City of New Rochelle last week, raises serious questions about many of the “Return on Investment” claims behind the Mayor’s GreeNR sustainability plan without demonstrating the slightest reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. The report filed by ElectroMotive Designs (EMD) per the terms of their contract with the City, was made to evaluate the performance of the City’s first “Green” Refuse Truck which was put into service last summer.
The City of New Rochelle web site still claims:
The benefits of a plug-in operation include significant fuel savings and a 50% reduction in emissions of particulates and hydrocarbons. Additionally, the vehicle will run more quietly and require less maintenance.
Based on the most conservative estimates, it will take many decades for the truck to reach break-even, long after the serviceable life of the vehicle. The report contains no information on emissions data so previous emission reduction claim cannot be evaluated based on this report.
Read the EMD Report here
Talk of the Sound has encountered difficulty in determining the exact cost of converting the Mack refuse truck (the original truck cost about $180,000) to hybrid-electric use. Initial FOIL attempts were not “productive”. Sources tell Talk of the Sound that the total cost was between $100,00 and $250,000 depending on whether you include initial failed attempts to convert the vehicle (the original vendor went out of business).
ElectroMotive Designs reports:
The City of New Rochelle has been successfully demonstrating hybrid electric propulsion in its daily refuse collection operations. It has teamed with Electro Motive Designs LLC(EMD) to convert and evaluate an existing Mack refuse collection. The vehicle has been used in continuous service for over 9 months with no interruptions other than scheduled maintenance and inspection of the Hybrid system. This has been a significant accomplishment for CNR and the participating organizations.
The report goes on to state that EMD has “experienced an initial fuel economy improvement of about 10- 15% within the 9 months of operation” and says the “key will be to quantify the actual dollars saved over 12 months of operation…and extrapolate over the useful life of the vehicle to see if a hybrid system can be procured by CNR that that achieves the right value proposition.”
Let’s see if we can help EMD and the Mayor do some basic math.
The report says the vehicle was driven occasionally with the hybrid system disabled to compare fuel economy. The testing was done on 25 days during the 9 month period. During those 25 days, the report says the truck was driven 1,103 miles or 36 miles per day. While the hybrid system was engaged the truck averaged 2.328 MPG, while the hybrid system was disengaged the truck averaged 2.121 MPG which is a bit less than a 10% greater fuel efficiency.
So, let’s see if can make a preliminary evaluation of the Return on Investment (ROI) of this truck. Proponents of GreeNR have repeatedly claimed that there are either “no costs” in the plan (a direct quote from the Mayor on WVOX) or that any up front costs will be more than earned back because all the proposed items in the plan have wonderful ROI characteristics. The EMD report offers residents their first chance to measure these claims.
By our math, if the truck is getting between 2.1 and 2.3 MPG and going about 36 miles in a day the truck uses about 16 gallons per day. In a typical month there are about 22 work days. If the truck is magically never taken out of service it will consume a maximum of about 350 gallons a month. If EMD is correct and there is a 10% increase in fuel efficiency the converted truck saves about 35 gallons a month.
The U.S. Department of Energy reports that diesel fuel is selling for about $3.00 per gallon, so that is about $105 a month in savings.
Over the course of a year that comes out to $1,260 on fuel cost savings.
Cost to Convert Vehicle/Years Until Break-Even
if $50,000 = 40 years.
if $100,000 = 80 years.
if $150,000 = 120 years.
if $200,000 = 160 years.
According to Talk of the Sound sources, the truck regularly breaks down and the fuel savings claims significantly overstate the reduction in fuel consumption. These sources say the truck has been saving about 4 gallons a month which is savings of less than $150 a year in which case it will take a millennium to reach break even on this truck.
In terms of carbon emissions, it is possible to purchase carbon offsets. There is one for a landfill in upstate New York that sell 100 Tons of Carbon officers for $1,000 so for the cost of the truck, maybe $400,000, they could have purchase 400,000 tons of carbon offsets It is possible to buy rain forest carbon offsets for $2 per ton so New Rochelle could have bought 250,000 tons of rain forest offsets. All of this seems much cheaper than the cost of converting the truck.
Talk of the Sound hopes that as the City Council begins to consider the Mayor’s GreenNR plan they first ascertain the exact cost of the conversion, examine the service records and determine the precise amount of fuel savings (not percentages but gallons of diesel) and then, using $3.00 a gallon, project a break-even point on this converted vehicle.
The report is contained in an 11 page document linked above. Readers please note that we obtained a faxed copy of the document today and hope to scan a higher quality version and replace this scan when we have that available. For now, this copy is readable and residents can glean the important information from the report.