HPEDC hosts forum on green tech, energy costs

Hunts Point Economic Development Corporation executive director Josephine Infante (above) stands next to one of the “green” fleet vehicles on display at the organization’s July 9 event. The forum focused on coping with high-energy prices so they do not have to be passed onto customers. - Photo by Kevin Heckman

The Hunts Point Economic Development Corporation hosted a forum entitled ‘Coping with High Energy Prices’ in an effort to get businesses on-board with green-fleet technology for their trucks in an era of soaring energy costs.

The event, held at the Hunts Point Meat Market on Wednesday, July 9, was an informational session for area companies, extolling them in the virtues of electric, hybrid-electric, compressed natural gas, high-efficiency diesel and biodiesel trucks.

The forum was necessitated by diesel gas prices, which have topped $5 a gallon.  The new green-fleet technology helps remove the burden of such costs. 

Local companies heard from truck fleet operators who have already booked significant savings from the new energy technologies.

 “We can’t wait until tomorrow, because in the time of $5 diesel, tomorrow will be too late,” said Josephine Infante, HPEDC executive director. “I want our fleet owners and small truckers to see that there are steps they can now take to reap savings today without having to wait for hypothetical and new technology to arrive.”

Rather than focusing solely on the more idealistic concerns of protecting the environment; instead the event looked at the pragmatic side of the equation: lower energy prices that are a boon to area business, while protecting the environment.

Guests met experienced bio-diesel producers who serve the Bronx – Sprague Energy and Schildwatcher Oil – and also spoke directly with the Coca-Cola Bottling Company and Manhattan Beer Distributors managers who have converted large parts of their fleets to cleaner and low-cost alternative energies.

Specialists in funding alternative energy vehicles explained how to take advantage of grants and loans, plus how to use tax credits available through the New York State Empire Zone.

Art Vasky, a green-fleet consultant, was retained by the HPEDC on a grant they received to study and implement green technology solutions in the Hunts Point peninsula.

“Diesel petroleum costs $1.80 more than this time last year,” Vasky said. “Every day, it is a bigger bite out of our budget. Hoping in not coping. The price of diesel is not going to drop. ”

Vasky has been working win new engine technologies and fuels since 1980 and explained that while government programs will not provide breaks on fuels, there are programs in place that put a financial incentive to going green.

Vasky is working with incentives, some put in place by the Empire Zone program, to convert as many trucks to green technologies as possible.

There were seven trucks parked next to the tent at the event, each burning between 20% and 100% less diesel gas because of hybrid, natural gas, and electric engines. The cost of burning CNG in a truck comes out to at least a dollar less per gallon.

“The price of diesel fuel may go down soon,” countered Luis Torres, at the Center for Sustainable Energy at Bronx Community College. “But the threat remains, and we are still vulnerable  to spikes in prices.”

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