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March 01. 2012 6:27PM

President praises Nashua mayor for energy efforts

NASHUA -- Mayor Donnalee Lozeau was thrown into the spotlight on Thursday by President Barack Obama when he publicly commended her for trying to make the city more energy efficient.

Promoting his efforts to boost domestic energy production and reduce the nation's dependence on foreign oil, Obama said he was pleased to hear that Nashua is taking steps to reduce its fuel usage.

Prior to his speech at Nashua Community College, the president had the opportunity to tour the school's automotive division where one of the city's new Department of Public Works compressed natural gas vehicles was on display.

The trash truck is one of several the city currently operates on natural gas, according to Obama.

"I saw one," he said proudly. ". . . It put a smile on the mayor's face because she knows that she is saving money. She is saving taxpayer money. Good job, mayor."

The gymnasium erupted with applause at the sound of the mayor's name.

Prior to Obama's speech, Lozeau said she was honored the president was visiting the city of Nashua, saying she is pleased the second-largest city in the state remains on his radar.

With six natural gas vehicles already in operation by the city, nine more vehicles have been ordered, according to Lozeau, who is recommending the purchase of 16 additional natural gas-operated vehicles in the near future.

Hybrid vehicles are more energy efficient and environmentally friendly, she said, explaining that through a public/private partnership with Alternative Vehicle Service Group LP, the city now has a compressed natural gas fueling station.

During her State of the City address last week, Lozeau said this is a cost saving measure and potential revenue source for the city, while it also reduces emissions and noise pollution.

"In fact, these trucks are so quiet that were it not for the unavoidable noise of the trash actually falling into the truck, residents might not get that last minute reminder to get their trash to the curb in time for the pickup," she said at the time. "Our efforts have generated so much attention that we have been recommended by New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services for a more than $700,000 grant to cover the cost differential for an additional 16 public works vehicles that will operate on (compressed natural gas), three police alternative fuel vehicles and three fire vehicles."

On Thursday, Lozeau stressed that it costs the city $2.30 per gallon for compressed natural gas, and about $2.18 per gallon for diesel fuel. That is a significant savings, she stressed.

Obama, acknowledging the overwhelming number of federal government vehicles, said he is calling on every government agency to ensure that by 2015, all new government vehicles purchased are fuel efficient.

"So this is our future," he said, encouraging the discovery of more clean energy technology.

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