Fuel efficiency claim is not accurate

To the editor:

Residents recently received a “Recycling Progress Report 2015” in their city utility bills. That report comments on the fuel performance of the hydraulic hybrid technology that the city foolishly purchased for more than $300,000. The report states:

“Analysis indicates that our new refuse/recycling fleet is using more fuel, with modest improvement in overall efficiency.” The report goes on to say that this is an “apples to oranges” comparison and “comparison to industry standards for similar trucks… suggests our trucks approach 50 percent improved fuel efficiency….”

The increased fuel usage is a fact. The claim of 50 percent improved efficiency is speculation, likely based on manufacturer’s projections. The public works director had fuel usage data in hand when he made his July report to council but, despite promises to do otherwise, chose not to include it in his presentation. Apparently he had not yet figured out how to spin the excess fuel use.

In his May 1, 2014, memo to city council recommending the purchase of this technology the public works director claimed this hybrid technology would reduce the city’s fuel usage and carbon emission. There he wrote:

“At 45 percent improved fuel efficiency, the refuse/recycling fleet’s diesel fuel consumption would be reduced from 10,370 gallons (in 2013) to 7,535 gallons, over 2,800 gallons. 2013 diesel fuel use corresponds to estimated annual CO2e emissions of 115.11 tons. Reduced fuel consumption would generate an estimated reduction in CO2e emissions of 31.47 tons/year.”

There is no public record indicating that staff or council expected these trucks to use more fuel than the old trucks and raise, not lower, the city’s carbon footprint.

The 30 percent expanded recycling is a good thing – but it is not due to the hybrid technology nor the automatic loaders. The expanded recycling is due to the abandonment of sorting and the use of a single, larger container for recycling. The college used this method for years and it could have been achieved by the city at lower cost and carbon footprint using 25-gallon, hand-loaded garbage cans and conventional trucks.

John Scofield