Sheriff Dolph Bryan announced Wednesday that the Oktibbeha County Sheriff’s Department had converted 14 of its cars and SUVs to propane vehicles.
Propane vehicles produce 87 percent less smog-producing hydrocarbons than gasoline vehicles and costs 30 percent less per gallon on average, according to police vehicle outfitter Force 911’s website.
In addition to fuel cost savings, Bryan said the department could send an application to the federal government quarterly to receive a $0.50 rebate for every gallon of propane used. He said each vehicle cost $6,000 to convert to the new fuel system, which included adding an additional fuel tank to the vehicle. Funds for the conversion stems from a federal grant, along with funds from Mississippi State University, the City of Starkville, and a federal rebate.
“Every quarter, we can apply for it,” Bryan said. “We can get 50 cents of reimbursement from the government for gallon of propane used.”
He said the department has a total of about 28 vehicles, including older vehicles only used in the event of a shortage, making the propane vehicles about half of their total supply.
Bryan said his testing of a converted vehicle yielded 14.4 miles per gallon, carrying him 390 miles with no problems. He said the only real differences in handling between these converted vehicles and gas vehicles come when the car starts up and when the propane tank runs out.
“These cars run just like gasoline cars,” Bryan said. “When it cranks, it cranks on gasoline. Then, when it gets good and warm, it switches to propane.”
Bryan said the vehicles could switch to their gasoline tank at any time, switching automatically when the propane tank depletes to extend the vehicles’ range.