LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - Groups from across the state were in La Crosse Tuesday talking about the future of alternative fuels in Wisconsin.
The day showcased businesses already seeing the benefits of using fuels other than gasoline.
Because Wisconsin has to import gasoline it's extremely expensive for companies to put a large number of vehicles on the road.
"Something like $11 billion is what Wisconsin is spending every year, that is leaving our state, because we are not petroleum producers," Gus Lopez, communications director for the Wisconsin Bio Industry Alliance, said.
But at Tuesday's workshop companies from throughout Wisconsin showed others how they're saving money by using alternative fuels.
"It's lowering our emissions, it's lowering our costs and it's an American made fuel and their renewable fuels. So it's better for our country and it's better for our environment," Executive Director for Wisconsin Clean Cities Lorrie Lisek said.
The La Crosse Police Department has seen the cost savings alternative fuels can bring. As a way to cut costs, in 1999 the department began installing 25-gallon propane tanks in its squad cars.
"We wanted to make sure our squad cars could still perform at the level and we have not seen any problems with the performance of our squad cars," Lt. Pat Hogan said.
On top of seeing its cars run cleaner, the department saves between $50,000 and $70,000 a year thanks to propane.
"We can get a gallon of propane for a little over a $1.50, a gallon to $1.60 a gallon," Hogan said.
All La Crosse PD vehicles are duel-fuel, meaning they can run on either gasoline or propane.
"Just this past winter when the propane prices went way up and was actually higher than fuel at that time then we just actually switched our squad cars over to run on fuel," Hogan said.
The Police Department said it used around 45,000 gallons of propane compared to about 20,000 gallons of gasoline in 2013.
Hogan said the department is happy to be doing it's part by saving money and the environment.
"I mean, I think we've seen, actually we've seen the cars perform well. There's no safety concerns and like I said we've been able to save the city tax payers some money," Hogan said.
Hogan said the squad cars get a couple miles per gallon less on propane versus gasoline.
Hogan also said the tanks stand up in a crash test rating. A squad was hit at about 55 mph by a drunken driver and the tank was unharmed and caused no additional damage.
The Police Department gets a 50-cent rebate from the federal government for each gallon of propane they use, which brings the cost down to around $1 per gallon.
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