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Raleigh environmental board devises fuel-saving plans

The City Council may vote Tuesday on a plan to try to cut fuel consumption by 20 percent.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Raleigh city workers are driving more miles and using more gasoline than ever before as the city grows. It’s a sore spot city leaders would like to change, and they may have a plan for how to do it.

"It's something we're all concerned about," said Denny Murphy, chairman of the city’s Environmental Advisory Board.

"I think it's very important for cities to be more environmentally conscious,” Mayor Charles Meeker said Monday.

The City Council may do just that at its Tuesday meeting.

Members will get a proposal from the environmental board that says Raleigh should cut its reliance on fossil fuels by 20 percent over the next five years, including credit for good steps already taken.

"It's not going to be easy,” Murphy said. But, he added, “If we don't make it to the 20 percent goal, it won't be a failure. Anything over what we have now will be good."

Fuel dispensed for city vehicles has increased over the past five years from 1.29 million to 1.7 million gallons a year.

The advisory board’s suggestions include combining trips for departments and down-sizing from SUV's to sedans when possible. The board suggested that departments can coordinate their efforts to see if there are instances when people from different agencies could make one trip instead of two or more for service calls.

The city has about 1,700 vehicles in its fleet, everything from sanitation trucks to police cars to fire engines. Whenever possible, the board suggested, conventional vehicles should be replaced by alternative-fueled vehicles or hybrids.

Meeker says any initial costs for more expensive hybrids would be made up over time.

"Some officials have just signed proclamations and all that, but this really is a change." Meeker said.


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