Lightning Hybrids could upgrade 2 Loveland buses

LOVELAND – Lightning Hybrids could fit two city of Loveland buses with hydraulic hybrid powertrain systems to repay money it owes the city after the company fell short on promised job creation.

Lightning Hybrids’ hydraulic hybrid system regenerates braking energy, providing as much as 40-percent gas mileage improvement for work-truck and shuttle-bus fleets. The system can be installed on new vehicles as well as retrofitted on vehicles already in service.

The Loveland company, as part of a city incentive program, had promised to create 25 jobs for a $50,000 cash payment in July 2009, according to city documents. The city agreed to pay Lightning Hybrids another $50,000 once the company had created an additional 25 jobs.

The company was given two years to create and maintain the jobs to receive the second payment. However, the city learned that Lightning Hybrids had created 11 jobs by July 2011.

The terms of incentive package now require Lightning Hybrids to repay the city $28,000, as the company had agreed to reimburse the city $2,000 for each job it fell short on creating.

Meanwhile, the city will spend $24,000 from a federal grant to fund a portion of the price tag of the systems, which cost a total of $52,000. Lightning Hybrids, for its part, will retrofit the buses to settle up the difference.

Tim Reeser, president and co-founder of Lightning Hybrids, praised the proposal as an example of how cities could help start-ups become successful.

“We’re excited about it,” he said. “The city has done a significant evaluation of our technology, and we do believe they’ve done a good job and due diligence.”

“We believe it’s a great fit for the fleet buses,” he added.

The new systems must lead to at least a 17-percent increase in average fuel efficiency on the buses, according to the proposed agreement. Lightning Hybrids expects fuel efficiency will increase by 25 to 30 percent.

Loveland city councilors will consider the proposal at their meeting 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.

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