Executives with Baltimore-based H&S Bakery announced Wednesday their purchase of a new fleet of cleaner-running, propane-fueled delivery trucks that they said would cut their emissions in half in Baltimore.

They made the announcement in a new state-of-the-art, environmentally-friendly bread distribution facility in an industrial area across the Baltimore County line from Rosedale. They and several city leaders, including Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, touted the fleet change — which is still in the works — as part of a broader shift toward alternative fuel transportation coming to the city.

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"H&S Bakery takes the responsibility seriously to protect our environment," said J.R. Paterakis, the family-owned company's vice president of sales and marketing. "Our goal is to be a trendsetter."

Rawlings-Blake said the city is working with many local companies to think "more innovatively about reducing our carbon footprint," and the Paterakis family's jump to propane-gas vehicles was a perfect example.

"It's such a good idea, I'm going to steal it," she said, before announcing the city is in the process of purchasing a new fleet of propane-fueled sedans and is working on an analysis of the benefits of shifting its fleet of trash trucks to the technology as well.

She did not elaborate. Caron Brace, a spokeswoman, said the idea of moving city fleets to newer fuel technologies "is in a concept phase," and is being reviewed by the Office of Sustainable Energy, which recently moved from the Department of General Services to the Department of Public Works.

"The mayor has asked for a policy," Brace said. "A lot of it is ideas being explored, looking at the options, looking at the costs."

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, propane is "an inherently clean burning fuel due to its lower carbon content," and when used as a vehicle fuel can offer greenhouse emission benefits when compared to traditional fuels.

Chuck Paterakis, vice president of transportation and logistics at H&S Bakery, said his company has purchased 16 propane-fueled trucks and is in the process of purchasing 30 more in the next year. A fueling station has been installed outside the facility, as well.

Along with its affiliates, H&S distributes bread products to supermarkets, retailers, restaurants and fast-food chains in more than 20 states nationwide. The company will continue to expand its investment in cleaner fuel technologies moving forward, Paterakis said.

"We're committed to be the leaders, not waiting for someone else to show us what's possible in today's world," he said.

In October, the Paterakis family signed a deal with Ryder System Inc. to lease 25 compressed natural gas tractors for its bun distributions to McDonald's restaurants throughout the region.

For the 16 newly purchased vehicles, H&S partnered with ROUSH CleanTech, which designs, manufacturers and installs propane autogas fuel system technology for medium and lightweight trucks.

Todd Mouw, ROUSH's vice president of sales and marketing, said the possibilities for expanding the technology in the United States — and in Baltimore — are endless, and asked the officials in the room to take the message of alternative fuel to the rest of their business contacts.

Chris Rice, clean cities coordinator for the Maryland Energy Administration, said H&S received a $7,450 rebate for each of its new trucks from the administration. Chuck Paterakis said federal grants were also used to get the program off the ground.

"It's taxpayers' money but it's used wisely," he said.

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