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Thanks, Jeffco, for pimping my snowplow!

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Have you ever been stuck behind a snowplow and wondered about the environmental havoc being wreaked by the plumes of exhaust billowing from it? Well, if you're driving in the wake of the baby seen here, you'll be pleased to know it'll take roughly three times as long to do the same amount of damage.

That's because this 2009 International Model 7300 is what Jefferson County officials believe to be the nation's first hybrid snowplow -- and citizen involvement coordinator Jennifer Kostka say it's estimated to "reduce hydrocarbon emissions by 65 percent -- and as far as gas consumption, we're thinking it'll save 30 to 50 percent."

The $162,240 purchase has been at least two years in the making.

"We've been working with other hybrid vehicles in our fleet, ranging from Priuses and Escapes -- they're mostly for getting our employees around the county during the day," Kostka notes. "And a couple of years ago, people on our road and bridge crew started thinking, why don't we work with some vendors to put together something bigger."

Turns out the International model in question was already available, but it was designed as a delivery truck -- "and we thought, what would happen if we put a plow on it, and a grader?"

Seems to work so far. "From the testing we've done, it shows the same amount of power as a normal snowplow," she maintains. Still, "we're mostly going to operate it in neighborhood areas, where they'll be doing a lot of stop and go and the hybrid ability will be optimal."

If the snowplow performs as hoped, Jeffco bean-counters think it'll pay for itself after 90,000 miles (the typical life expectancy for a plow is 200,000 miles) and could lead to more purchases like it. At present, the ride will be based at Jeffco's central road-and-bridge shop in Golden, joining a fleet of 130 plows county-wide. And weather permitting, Kostka says, "it could be ready to go out as early as next week."

Let it snow.

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