With Break -Even Point Nowhere in Sight, Report on New Rochelle’s Green Garbage Truck Raises Doubts About Bramson Plan

Written By: Robert Cox

hybridtruck1.jpgIt 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.

7 thoughts on “With Break -Even Point Nowhere in Sight, Report on New Rochelle’s Green Garbage Truck Raises Doubts About Bramson Plan”

  1. yeah, i heard from an
    yeah, i heard from an employee that the hybrid part of the truck hasnt worked in a month. so it is just running like a normal truck and now saving anything. the person said it is using more fuel now because of all the extra weight from the conversion. this city is a joke.

  2. Did you calculate the rising
    Did you calculate the rising price of diesel? It more than doubled in price in this decade. ( http://tiny.cc/ti08y )

    I know the numbers weren’t meant to be exact but extrapolating 40 to 160 years later (even just to make a point) w/o adjusting for rising prices (which is a sisyphean task if there was one) really makes the calculations off base

    I’m not arguing whether or not the truck is cost efficient or not…

    1. show your work
      By all means, please perform your own calculation and projections.

      Let’s see, if the cost of the conversion was $100,000 and we DOUBLE the current price of diesel then the truck reaches break-even in just four decades.

      Your right! That’s MUCH Better. Let’s convert 10 trucks! 🙂

    2. Lets Be Fair
      Hey letsbefair, did you question your leaders; Idoni & Bramson if they extrapolated property values out 30-years before giving Avalon a 30-year tax abatement??? I didn’t think so. You sound like someone very familiar to me. Could it be we have crossed paths before? Maybe on the airwaves or served on the same committee?????? Hope you’re a realtor so you can use your expertise to answer the Avalon question. Oh and by the way $20,000 per student times the 80 students from Avalon equals $1.6 MILLION which the school district loses in cold cash that the taxpayers of New Rochelle must absorb.

      1. slightly confused
        I sincerely and honestly was not making an argument about whether the trucks were ultimately saving money. (There is no doubt that sustainability initiatives are often exaggerated when it comes to cost-effectiveness when government officials are trying to sell ‘green’ initiatives) I just felt that the number chart was a bit off. As Mr. Cox pointed out, the time before it breaks even could still be ridiculously long even when adjusting for prices doubling again. (I would still argue that extrapolating prices so far out is really really difficult… a continuing slope would actually more than double costs.I honestly don’t know enough about long term diesel trends to say whether or not such a continuing trend is likely or not)

        I did not mention anything about our current or former mayor or about the tax abatements. (I almost feel like I am being baited into causing controversy) I don’t think I am informed enough about the issue to comment nor do I think this comment section is the right section to do so. (it is my first time commenting on this site and I’m already being accused of being a troll)

        I don’t think I know you Mr. Galletta since I am not that involved in New Rochelle politics on either side… and given the angry response I am somewhat afraid do to so. (I didn’t know that local politics could get so heated!)

      2. Sorry I scared you
        Once again a Bramson lackey uses the term “angry” in an attempt to discredit me. I will tall you what everyone has learned. You confuse anger with passion. I am passionate about New Rochelle and you try to deflect the debate by interjecting obscure points that as you say minimally effect the position taken. This site is a place for people to discuss and debate the issues of the day. Some like you pose questions make obscure comments never taking a position or offering a solution. I have supported my positions and taken criticism as is to be expected. At the end of the day; if you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.

  3. If the City truly wants to
    If the City truly wants to save money they should try and find a company who can convert all their vehicles to run on the Mayors Bull Shi* and Emissions. This guy has a BS footprint as big as any Politician on earth. The fact that the city can spend this much money and not have to back it up with results is almost criminal.

Comments are closed.