Vehicle Telematics Pilot Project for Municipal Fleets
Since the establishment of the Green Communities Program in 2008, a challenge for many participating municipalities has been reducing vehicle fuel consumption. While vehicle fuel use represents an average of 20% of total municipal energy consumption across Green Communities, vehicle fuel use reductions represent only 2% of all energy reductions achieved to date through the program. This issue poses particular challenges for small, rural communities, where vehicle fuel usage can represent more than 35% of municipal energy usage.
In order to help rural communities save money and achieve greater fuel efficiency, UMass Clean Energy Extension and the MA Clean Cities Coalition are partnering with selected Massachusetts Green Communities to pilot use of telematics equipment in municipal vehicles. Through Program Opportunity Notice ENE-2020-001, issued by the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources, the town of Leverett was awarded funds to install telematics units in 12 municipal vehicles, and to track vehicle fuel usage through GPS Insight. UMass Clean Energy Extension is reviewing and analyzing fuel data, vehicle use, and idling times. Over time, this project is expected to yield insights regarding patterns of vehicle and fuel use that can help Leverett and other rural communities with their energy and cost-saving efforts.
A major benefit of telematics software is that it will help us to calculate potential cost/energy savings associated with use of idle reduction technologies and hybrid or electric vehicles. The study will also provide fuel economy values for heavy-duty vehicles used in a municipal setting. This is important, because manufacturers are not required to provide an estimate of fuel economy (MPG) for heavy-duty vehicles with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of over 8,500 pounds. Collecting fuel economy data can help rural municipalities identify differences in fuel efficiency across their fleets, and make informed decisions about how to right-size fleet vehicles to the task at hand, so that low fuel-efficiency vehicles are used for the tasks for which they are necessary, but more efficient vehicles are utilized for lighter-duty tasks.