SoCal CEO: WRCOG, Advancing Alternative Fuel Technologies In Inland Southern California

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The 14th annual “Advancing the Choice Expo” helped Western Riverside County leaders push the region to the forefront of alternative fuel technologies. Energy Independence Business Magazine recently examined the conferees choices to forge a greener and healthier Inland Southern California.

We have (fuel) technologies in place…that can actually make an impact on the amount of greenhouse gasses we produce today.

More than 150 people brainstormed on using alternative fuel technologies to reduce Riverside County’s air pollution at the 14th annual “Advancing the Choice Expo” in Beaumont. The conferees told Energy Independence Business Magazine the Western Riverside Council of Governments sponsored event helps them set into motion solutions to forge a greener and healthier Inland Empire.

Former Riverside Mayor, Ron Loveridge, Ph.D., was the keynote speaker. “What’s taking place here is not just another meeting, but it’s a statement of this region; this region’s interest in clean air; this region’s interest in being a leader,” he said.

The “Advancing the Choice Expo” highlighted alternative fuels, and alternative fuel infrastructure that will be needed to serve an expected influx of some 800-thousand newcomers to Western Riverside County over the next few decades, said Rick Bishop, WRCOG Director.

There’s a real need to look holistically at public health, energy and transportation together to develop programs to increase the area’s economic vitality and health, Bishop said. “In order for western Riverside County to be a real player on the world stage in the future, it’s important that we create healthy communities.”

Several panelists at the conference said viable solutions to clean air exist. “We have (fuel) technologies in place that can actually make an impact on the amount of greenhouse gasses we produce today,” said Todd Hill, Promethean Biofuels Founder.

The Temecula cooperative recycles various types of bio-waste, such as restaurant or kitchen grease and used cooking oil, into fuel. “I support the use of the all of them, and they all have a place in our future. The reality is we need to make change today,” Hill said. “So, we need to use those tool sets that we have today to make those changes.”

Some of those “changes” were parked outside the Expo. Numerous alternative fuel vehicles were on display for the various city representatives to test drive and consider for their municipal fleets to reduce air pollution and save taxpayers money.

Most people don’t know some 18-million vehicles worldwide run on propane autogas, said Darren Engle, Blue Star Gas Director and Expo Speaker. “There are countries like Turkey and Poland that have about three-million vehicles each that run on them, but here in the United States, we only have 142-thousand vehicles that run on propane autogas,” Engle said. “It’s probably one of the best kept secrets because when it comes to the economics for a fleet, we can reduce the fuel costs over conventional gas and diesel by about 50 percent. “

Electric plug-in cars and fuel cell vehicles, which use hydrogen to power an electric engine, were also on display to show city leaders zero emissions fleet cars. These cars now have a range of up to 350 miles on a single charge or tank of hydrogen, and they’re more than twice as efficient as conventional gas vehicles, said Elan Shore, California Fuel Cell Partnership Southern Regional Coordinator.

These technologies, however, come at a price. The California Energy Commission and U-S Department of Energy can help cover the cost, and the Western Riverside County Clean Cities Coalition will assist cities with grant proposals. Coalition Coordinator Jennifer DiCiano said, “We are starting to work with more agencies to create a collaborative effort to reduce not only greenhouse gas emissions, not only to reduce the use of petroleum, but to also emphasize the importance of clean air for our communities.”

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Dwight Cromie

Bill Friedl
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