Denver can now spend up to $50 million on gas a year. And premium only, please, for DPD’s Harleys.

The city doesn’t actually spend that much on gas. Not nearly that much.

Denver Police officers cruise the 16th Street Mall on motorcycles at dawn. Sept. 18, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Denver Police officers cruise the 16th Street Mall on motorcycles at dawn. Sept. 18, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photo

It doesn’t usually cost $50 million a year to power the city’s gas-guzzling vehicle fleet. But Denver has a contract in place just in case it does.

The city can spend up to $50 million on fuel after City Council approved a contract Monday with Arvada-based Hill Petroleum to power Denver’s gasoline and diesel powered vehicle fleet, which amounted to about 3,000 cars and bikes in 2019. Kenton Janzen, the city’s senior procurement analyst, said the contract means Denver can spend up to $50 million, but that’s nowhere near what the city actually ends up spending on fuel.

Janzen — basically the city’s fuel guy — helped put the contract together. He said the city spent roughly $22 million over the past four years on fuel, equating to about $5.5 million annually. He estimated that Denver typically uses 1.5 million to 2 million gallons every year.

The massive difference between reality and the contract’s figure gives the city a cushion just in case it needs more fuel, so it doesn’t have to go back to City Council to ask for more money.

“We’ve never really come close to that,” Janzen said about the $50 million cap.

Hill Petroleum will provide fuel for police cruisers, fire trucks, cars used by the city’s parks and transportation departments, and airport vehicles. The fuel gets delivered to roughly 20 sites around the city and mountain parks.

The one-year contract includes locked prices for both diesel ($1.74 a gallon) and unleaded ($1.60 a gallon). This is important because, as Janzen explained, the contract stipulates that even if those gas prices rise, the city will continue paying that rate. Average Denverites pay $2.22 per gallon for regular unleaded and $2.34 for diesel.

The contract includes a stipulation for the company to provide premium unleaded fuel — or top grade, usually more expensive gasoline — for the city’s police motorcycle fleet, which is comprised of Harley-Davidson bikes, because that’s what they need.

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