On July 13th, Greater Lansing Area Clean Cities (GLACC), Clean Energy Coalition (CEC), and Michigan Green Fleets project partners came together at Henry Ford Community College to highlight ways American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds are supporting clean transportation projects in metro Detroit. Representatives from DTE Energy/MichCon and the City of Detroit spoke about their efforts through the Michigan Green Fleets project and the positive community impacts of these projects.

In 2009, CEC applied to the U.S. Department of Energy for a multi-stakeholder project that received nearly $15 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding. With that funding the Michigan Green Fleets Program was born. With project partner matching funds, the four-year effort totals almost $40 million of investment into Michigan based clean transportation projects. The Michigan Green Fleets project is helping to improve air quality, energy security and commercialize new technology – creating jobs in Michigan.

As a project partner, GLACC is organizing events around the state to tell the story of the Michigan Green Fleets project and its impacts. The July 13 event, “From DC to Detroit with Green Fleets” highlighted projects happening in metro Detroit. DTE Energy/MichCon provided $6.8 million to match $5.3 million in Michigan Green Fleets grant funds to purchase nearly 200 ¬†compressed natural gas (CNG) service vehicles and install 14 CNG fueling stations. The CNG fueling stations and utility vans serve seven cities across Michigan, giving this project a reach beyond metro Detroit. The CNG fueling stations include one in Melvindale, near southwest Detroit, that is open for public fueling, ensuring that other fleets in the area interested in CNG vehicles have a place to fuel.

Woody Woloszczuk from DTE Energy/MichCon spoke about the “Three Big E’s” that make natural gas a valuable alternative to petroleum fuels – environmental, energy security and economics.

“On average, a natural gas vehicle (NGV) will have a 25% to 28% reduction in its carbon footprint over petroleum,” said Woody. “Ninety eight percent of natural gas used in the U.S. is produced in North America. American fuel means more American jobs.”

The City of Detroit was also featured at the From DC to Detroit event  and is also benefitting from these Recovery Act funds. By this time next year, the City of Detroit will have outfitted eight refuse trucks with hydraulic hybrid propulsion systems. This new technology optimizes fuel efficiency through regenerative breaking and reusing stored energy to power the vehicle. Ken Gripper from the City of Detroit stressed the cost savings that hydraulic hybrid technology will provide. For every hour of operation, hydraulic hybrid drive will save the City of Detroit over one half gallon of diesel fuel. The incremental cost of $40,000 for these hydraulic hybrid retrofits will have a four to six year payback period, depending on the cost of fuel.

After the event, attendees were invited to take a trip to the DTE Energy/MichCon CNG fueling station in Melvindale. DTE generously provided transportation to and from the station on a CNG-powered trolley bus. CNG vehicles on display at the event were provided IMPCO Automotives and National Fleet Services.

Information on the West Michigan and Ann Arbor events in this series is will be announced soon. Each will feature unique clean fuel and vehicle projects happening in local communities and how this Recovery Act funded project has helped make clean transportation possible.

Check out more photos from the event on our Facebook page!