Scott Richmond of Albany, New York, has a corner of the Vilas County Highway Department’s garage in Eagle River all to himself on this March day.
Richmond, an employee of American Alternative Fuels, is working on the installation of a propane kit on a Chevrolet Tahoe belonging to the Vilas County Sheriff’s Department.
The Tahoe is the department’s K-9 vehicle, one of a total of 26 to have a propane kit installed.
The Vilas County Board approved the installation of the kits at its Jan. 28 meeting.
The total cost to make the conversion is $124,400, with $20,000 of that to come from federal grant money.
The individual unit cost is $5,800.
Meant to be a way of saving money on fuel for the county in the long run, the kits can be removed from the vehicles when it’s time to take one from the fleet and installed on its replacement.
The vehicles will have the capability to run on propane or regular fuel.
Prior to Richmond’s arrival in Eagle River, two of the county’s Dodge Charger patrol vehicles had the conversion completed in Michigan.
Richmond arrived in Eagle River and started work on other vehicles in the fleet the morning of Mar. 10.
He said his company gets the pieces from Poland.
“We put the kits together,” he said. “They’re one size fits all so they have to be made to fit each vehicle.”
Richmond said he installs one to three of the units in a week.
“For one person, it takes about two days [to install a kit],” he said.
He seemed almost surprised the entire sheriff’s department fleet is being done in Vilas County.
“Usually, we do about half a dozen for a department or a company as a test run,” Richmond said.
He said he’s expecting four more people from American Alternative Fuels would be joining him to get the rest of the department’s vehicles converted in another week.
Brian Jopek may be reached at email@example.com.