Even though the campus may be snowy white right now, a growing number of vehicles are going green at the State University of New York at Cobleskill.
The new hybrid gasoline/electric Ford Escape that University Police put into service Friday is the latest of 10 alternative fuel vehicles that have recently been added to the college’s vehicle fleet, according to college spokesman Holly Cargill-Cramer.
“It runs really quiet,” said Lt. Sheila Coger as she showed off the 2008 all-wheel-drive Escape at campus police headquarters.
The college’s fleet of 92 cars, trucks and maintenance vehicles, now includes a variety of alternative-fuel vehicles, according to SUNY Cobleskill fleet manager Dan DeJong.
The list includes two Toyota Prius gas-electric hybrids delivered in November and three recently arrived flex-fuel Chevy Impalas, he said.
Three other vehicles use lower-cost compressed natural gas (CNG) that the college buys from a state Department of Transportation site in Cobleskill. Another campus maintenance pickup truck can use either gasoline or CNG.
SUNY Cobleskill “has already embraced the idea of incorporating sustainable practices into its curriculum and work,” Cargill-Cramer said in a release about the latest vehicles.
The drive toward alternative vehicles is in line with a state Commission on Higher Education report and the SUNY system’s budget requests, according to Cargill-Cramer.
SUNY Cobleskill Provost Anne Myers, the college’s interim top administrator, strongly endorsed the sustainability idea following a semi-annual roundtable forum in November, just as several of the vehicles were arriving or on order.
“We plan to buy, on average, two new alternative energy vehicles each year until the entire fleet is energy efficient,” according to Philip Arnold, SUNY Cobleskill’s director of facilities management.
The police force’s Escape was delivered a couple of months ago from a downstate dealer. LaRosa’s Automotive in Schenectady added police markings and detailing to the vehicle this week, Coger said. Installation of radio equipment is expected to be completed within a few days. The sport utility vehicle will then join the security force’s three police cars and a medical rescue vehicle for campus patrols and emergencies.
Under a state contract, the Escape costs $27,659, according to DeJong.
The Impala sedans can burn either normal gasoline or E-85 fuel, which is 85 percent ethanol plus gasoline.
“They haven’t even been on the road yet,” DeJong said. At least while they’re in Schoharie County, the flex-fuel Impalas will likely be burning gasoline, since the nearest stations offering the still relatively scarce E-85 are in Albany.
But since they are expected to be used mainly by admissions office staff that often travel throughout the state trying to interest students in Cobleskill, the plan is for them to fill up on E-85 whenever they can. A map of potential sources will soon be prepared, DeJong said.
Although the compressed gas fuel is cheaper per mile, and the electric hybrids already offer cost savings, DeJong acknowledged that when the cost of E-85 and the higher price tag of alternative vehicles is factored in, net savings may have to wait a few years until increased volume lowers relative prices.