OBERLIN — The city will be the first in the state to use hybrid garbage and recycling trucks after City Council approved the purchase of the three vehicles Monday night.
The vehicles cost the city $1.1 million, but City Council President Scott Broadwell said cost-saving options were available to the city, including a $10,000 per truck grant from Oberlin College’s Green Edge Program and a $200,000 grant from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.
Keith Bailey, director of the Lorain County Solid Waste Management District, said the grant from the Ohio EPA was awarded due to a February fire at the city’s Public Works Complex, which destroyed all six of the city’s garbage and recycling trucks. Since the fire, the city has been renting trucks to service its residents and has replaced two of the vehicles.
“We immediately reached out to community leaders to see how the district could help. We have been very successful over the years receiving state grants and having a good working relationship at the Ohio EPA office,” he said via a news release.
Broadwell said the grants will help the city contain costs, as well as the estimated savings that will come from reduced fuel use, so purchasing the hybrid hydraulic vehicles was a smarter option.
“With the grants and so forth, it would have come out a wash,” he said.
In addition, the hybrid vehicles align with the city’s goal to reach carbon neutrality, he said.
The drive systems in the new vehicles were designed by Parker Hannifin, and the city expects to use 50 percent less fuel than the traditional commercial vehicles, said Public Works Director Jeff Baumann.
The vehicles were inspected during a visit to the Solid Waste Division in Miami/Dade County, which is part of a pilot program to use the hybrid hydraulic vehicles. In an evaluation provided to Oberlin from Baumann, Baumann wrote that the drivers who use the hybrid vehicles had a “sense of pride” in the equipment and were comfortable using the new system.
Baumann reported that the new technology would also require fewer repairs to brakes.
Still, the additional $100,000 per vehicle in costs to the city could translate into higher residential rates for residents.
Based on the Public Works Department’s Refuse Multi-Year Budget, the residential rate is expected to increase from $6 per month to $7.50 per month and commercial rates will be increased by approximately 20 percent in 2014 and 2015 to fund operations through 2020.
Broadwell said he doesn’t expect any residential rate increases until January 2015.