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County no-idle policy looks to save fuel, money

BROOKSVILLE — Soaring prices for diesel fuel have prompted Hernando County officials to consider a new policy on when workers can allow their county vehicles to idle.

"When gas was cheap, we would not think twice about leaving the engine on and letting the air conditioning run,'' county fleet manager Jack Stepongzi said Monday. "This would bring it to mind and make you think about it when you do it.''

County commissioners will discuss the "no-idle policy" during today's regular meeting.

While Stepongzi said idling trucks and cars have not been identified as a major problem, employees need to think about what it costs when they run the vehicles needlessly.

"Less idling means less wasted fuel,'' he wrote in his memo to the county administrator. "A six-cylinder diesel vehicle that idles for one half hour a day wastes more than $1,600 worth of fuel over the course of a year.''

For a lightweight vehicle with a six-cylinder gasoline engine, the cost is about $800 a year, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The proposed policy would suggest that a vehicle should be shut off as soon as county employees get to a job site and should not be restarted until everyone traveling in the vehicle is inside and ready to go. Early morning warmup of vehicles would be limited to no more than three minutes in warm weather and no more than five minutes in cold weather.

Engines on all delivery vehicles should be shut off during a delivery.

Exemptions would be granted if conditions would compromise passenger safety or work requirements. Vehicles can idle in traffic or if extreme weather threatens the health of employees or if a vehicle needs to be running to operate affiliated equipment such as with a bucket truck.

Each department will be charged with the responsibility of policing the policy if enacted.

Just last month, Florida's Environmental Regulation Commission enacted a rule limiting idling by heavy-duty diesel engines for vehicles that weigh 8,500 pounds or more to no more than five minutes except under specified conditions.

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at behrendt@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1434.

County no-idle policy looks to save fuel, money 06/30/08 [Last modified: Monday, July 7, 2008 5:14pm]

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