Lake County is using software in vehicles to reduce fuel costs and carbon emissions.
To date, "idle technology" has been installed on 72 vehicles and the county plans to do so on 15 more by the end of the year.
"This is something new we're doing," said Shane Schneider, director of the Lake County Division of Transportation.
The fix is not mechanical but involves uploading software via a port on the vehicles to lower the idling rate of the engine. Estimates are the software reduces emissions and fuel use by 6% as the average vehicle sits idling for an hour per day, Schneider said.
"So far it's been very successful," Schneider said.
LCDOT manages the fleet for the entire county, including sheriff's vehicles, which are most likely to be idling and benefit most. So far, the software has been installed on 48 sheriff SUVS, 17 light trucks and seven vans, according to Schneider.
Assuming a cost of $3 per gallon, the annual savings in fuel costs is estimated at $60,000 after the software budgeted for the 2019-20 fiscal year which ends Nov. 30, is installed on all 87 vehicles. The software and license fee is about $400 per vehicle, Schneider said.
LCDOT during the budget process was given the go ahead to purchase idle reduction technology through a new program request. According to county rules, up to $30,000 can be spent before a contract needs to be approved at the board level, Schneider explained.
The full board on Tuesday is expected to authorize a contract for $34,713 with Derive Systems Inc., of Sanford, Florida, for idling reduction software.
Reducing the carbon footprint, saving energy and other measures are part of an overall county directive.
"This is definitely a county board initiative that we are following through on," Schneider said. Beginning with the next fiscal year staring Dec. 1, idle reduction software will be a standard upgrade for applicable vehicle purchases, he added.
LCDOT also is interested in utilizing more low-emission vehicles, including hybrid or all electric, Scheider said.