Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

Oh floats natural gas alternative to fueling city’s fleet

City Council heard testimony from the brass from the gas companies yesterday pushing for Philadelphia to use natural gas and other alternatives to fuel the city's municipal fleet. But opponents of the measure say that idea is lot of hot air.

Administrators from the city's Office of Fleet Management, local gas industry providers and private companies already undergoing fleet conversion testified during a hearing before the committee on global opportunities and the creative/innovative economy yesterday in City Hall.

Councilman David Oh, chairman of the committee, offered a resolution that explored converting Philadelphia's slowly dwindling and "gas guzzling" fleet of vehicles to run on compressed natural gas and other fuel alternatives. He said taxpayers could see long-term savings because natural gas costs roughly half the going rate for traditional gasoline.

"Many times the issues of alternative fuels and clean energy are misunderstood," said Oh.

"Sometimes people very much like what they hear and think it is sometimes superfluous, but the primary issue we're dealing with is the bread and butter – the nuts and bolts of what most average people care about – the performance of our vehicles, especially public safety vehicles, the maintenance of those vehicles, and the potential cost savings that save tax dollars so that we can use those funds for other things that are much needed in our city."

But critics of the measure say that drilling in Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale is not only dangerous to the land and water but also contains many hidden costs. Iris Marie Bloom, executive director of the Philadelphia-based nonprofit Protecting Our Waters, called it a "boom and bust industry" and opposed the use of shale gas from fracking.

According to the manager of the city's Office of Fleet Management, the aging fleet is as "lean as operationally advised," with about 5,800 vehicles, down from 6,300 from five years ago.