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Davidson County converts bus fleet, saves on fuel

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DAVIDSON COUNTY, N.C. -- The cost of fuel for buses has decreased thanks to a grant from NC State's Solar Center.

Buses in Davidson County have a lot of ground to cover with more than 500 square miles it has put some strain on the county's fuel budget. But not anymore.

Assistant County Manager, Zeb Hanner said, by chance they got a grant through NC State's Solar Center to cover the cost of switching regular gas-powered vehicles to propane gas.

"In our research, what we found was that historically propane had always kind of parallel gas and price but was always under gas," said Hanner.

Propane runs about $1.50 cheaper per gallon.  The grant paid for the county to convert 10 of its buses.  Now Davidson County is on track to save $31,000 a year. However, there's just one slight downside.

"There's very few filling stations, just like electric cars," said Hanner.

Since the buses typically don't leave the county,  the fleet's home base now has an 800-gallon propane fueling station. 

"But the beauty of it is, is it's a duel fuel system. So if they run out of propane they just flip a switch and they're running on gasoline."