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October 17. 2012 10:34PM

Nashua honored for green vehicles

NASHUA — The city of Nashua is being recognized as the first community in New England to aggressively replace its city vehicles with more energy-efficient trucks and cars.

With nearly 40 compressed natural gas vehicles expected to be deployed by the city by the end of the year, Nashua this week received accolades from Natural Gas Vehicles for America and Harvard University.

“Nashua is the first municipality in New England to take a comprehensive approach to fleet replacement utilizing CNG in many city departments affecting light, medium and heavy-duty vehicles simultaneously,” says a release from NGVAmerica. “The city of Nashua should be commended for creating the first public-private partnership CNG station in the state.”

Nashua is one of ten 2012 winners of the NGVAmerica Achievement Award.

Most of the vehicles are public works or trash vehicles, although aldermen recently approved spending $87,000 in escrow on two CNG buses.

The city’s compressed natural gas fueling station is fully accessible to the public, and is currently consuming more than 3,000 gallon gas equivalents per month.

Nashua has also been included in Harvard University’s 111 Bright Ideas in Government for its CNG program.

“Nashua has made significant improvements in air quality and reductions in petroleum use through the purchase of its replacement vehicles to cleaner-burning CNG engines. Reduced emissions allow engines to last 25 percent longer and create significant fuel savings,” says a statement from the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

During her State of the City address earlier this year, Mayor Donnalee Lozeau said the CNG program is a cost-saving measure and potential revenue source for the city, while it also reduces emissions and noise pollution.

The city was recommended by the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services for a $700,000-plus grant to cover the cost differential for 16 public works vehicles that will operate on compressed natural gas, three police alternative fuel vehicles and three fire vehicles.

This week, Lozeau said she is proud of the teamwork involved in the program.

“The real trophy is the positive benefit to our community,” she said.

During a visit to Nashua earlier this year, President Barack Obama also commended the city for trying be more energy-efficient. Obama said he is calling on every government agency to ensure that by 2015, all new government vehicles purchased are fuel-efficient.

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Kimberly Houghton may be reached at khoughton@newstote.com.

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