Who knew that going green could break the bank? That’s exactly what’s happening the Coachella Valley of California. More specifically, Palm Desert has been at the forefront of alternative fuel and ambulances for awhile now. They were the first ones to put the country’s first compressed natural gas (CNG)  ambulance on the road last year. However, the city is drowning in repair bills because they can’t find anyone to fix their alternative fuel vehicles locally. In an effort to cut their loses, the city is spending even more money — $78,000 to be exact — to have the rear compartment of their CNG ambulance put onto a clean-diesel chassis.

According to the city, the switch is due, in large part, to the ambulance’s inability to go the distance. Quite literally. The ambulance, which cost $186,175, is only averaging 82 miles to 136 miles per tank; with the range decreasing even further in warmer weather. Riverside County and federal requirements stipulate that ambulances must be able to travel 250 miles before refueling.

The Desert Sun cites an internal memo from Division Chief Dorian Cooley showing the city never told ambulance manufacturer, BAF Technologies, how far the ambulance was required to travel before refueling.

In addition to the town’s CNG ambulance problems, they also purchased a bucket truck that cannot be fixed locally. The $131,000 truck was purchased in 2009 and converted for use with alternative fuels at a cost of an additional $19,000. But the truck continues to break down from propane making its way into the water line. The truck was successfully fixed in January to only break down, again, on a freeway in February. At this point, it is still unusable.

The city, however, does not plan to turns it back on alternative fuel. ” I don’t think you’ll be seeing a lot of gas-powered cars on the streets in the near future, ” said Mayor Pro Tem Bob Spiegel.
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