Concord, Mass. Police are counting on new hybrid vehicles to reduce the department's fuel bills.

The department's fleet of vehicles includes a hybrid SUV, and the department is expecting a new hybrid sedan to be delivered next month. More hybrids for the department could be on the way in the next year for use as unmarked police cars.

Several Massachusetts communities are using energy-efficient vehicles for use by police, public works, and other municipal departments. Others have been slow to embrace the vehicles. Framingham, Lexington, Natick, Newton, and Waltham have added hybrids or alternative-fuel vehicles to their fleets, while Ashland, Marlborough, and Pepperell have not. Concord, Framingham, and Marlborough officials said they had applied for government reimbursements that are available this year for the energy-efficient models.

Concord already uses two Toyota Priuses at the Municipal Light Plant, a Ford Escape at the Water Department, and another Escape being used by police officers.  A Ford Fusion hybrid sedan, which Wetherbee said will be in line for the reimbursement program, is due to arrive next month.

Wetherbee said the department's hybrid Ford Escape will save $5,000 a year in fuel costs compared with the gas-powered Ford Explorer it is replacing, and hybrids may eventually cut his $73,000 fuel bill in half. He expects to purchase at least four replacement cars in the next fiscal year, and he might be in the market for more hybrids.

Town engineers in Framingham use two Ford Escape hybrids for site inspections. The town has applied for rebates for a Freightliner diesel-hybrid truck that is needed to inspect underground sewer lines for breaks or obstruction.

Wetherbee believes now is simply a good time to make changes. "I felt this is one way we could effect some change in a positive way, environmentally as well as operationally, and not impact our delivery of services at all," Wetherbee said.