What’s driving our tailpipe emissions reductions?

With 33 square miles of land area and 164 miles of Town-maintained roadway in Truckee, Town operations require a lot vehicle use. The town fleet includes passenger vehicles for staff travel to meetings, building inspections, and fieldwork, snowplows and blowers, heavy equipment, and police vehicles, among others. The Town’s 2016 Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Inventory found that approximately 43% of municipal GHG emissions are from our vehicle fleet. The Town is working hard to reduce these fleet emissions and to lead community-wide vehicle GHG reduction efforts. We’d like to share some of our recent progress!

Renewable Diesel Conversion

In early 2021, the Town switched over all sixty-one of our diesel-fueled vehicles from fossil fuel diesel to renewable diesel, which is derived from plant-based feedstock. Renewable diesel is a great option for our fleet, because its fuel performance is identical to fossil fuel diesel, it does not require any vehicle retrofits, and it performs well in cold weather. When compared to fossil fuel diesel, renewable diesel provides an approximate 57% decrease in carbon emissions. This conversion will eliminate an estimated 322 metric tons of CO2e annually, which is equivalent to the average emissions from seventy passenger vehicles.

Partnering to Lead Renewable Diesel Adoption

With the Town’s successful renewable diesel proof of concept complete, we are excited to lead the way in expanding renewable diesel adoption in Truckee. The Town executed a Memorandum of Understanding with Truckee Fire Protection District and Truckee Donner Public Utility District, allowing both agencies to fuel their fleets with renewable diesel at the Town’s fueling facility. Next summer we plan to install a larger fuel tank to facilitate this expansion.

Going Electric

Additionally, the Town recently added our first all-electric vehicle (EV) to the Town vehicle pool. Partially funded by a grant from Northern Sierra Air Quality Management District AB2766 DMV Surcharge Fund Program, the new EV is an important step toward reducing the Town’s greenhouse gas emissions and will help us pilot EV use for future expansion throughout the Town fleet. For our first EV the Town selected a Tesla Model 3 because this vehicle offers all-wheel drive and cold weather reliability, which are essential for year-round Town operations. With zero tailpipe emissions, the EV is expected to reduce Town GHG emissions by 5.5 MT of CO2e annually. The battery will be charged by Truckee Donner Public Utility District electricity. TDPUD reports that nearly 65% of their electricity is currently procured from carbon-free resources, and the district is making strides to increase its renewable portfolio. EVs also have lower fueling and maintenance costs than gasoline-powered cars. View an FAQ sheet about the Town Tesla.

What’s next?

As the Town looks towards continuing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from our vehicle fleet, a Clean Fleet Purchasing Policy has also been adopted. This policy sets the framework to evaluate all future vehicle purchases by comparing the lifecycle cost of fossil fuel vehicles and alternative fuel vehicles whenever an alternative is available. When the lifecycle cost of the alternative fuel vehicle is lower, that vehicle will be selected.

Our contractors have been hard at work this month installing new electric vehicle charging stations in front of Town Hall. Once completed, these stations will be available for public use. The Town plans to provide free charging for the first year. This project was funded by a grant from the Northern Sierra Air Quality Management District AB2766 DMV Surcharge Fund Program, which utilizes DMV charges to fund air pollution reduction projects.