Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas), a natural gas distribution utility, plans to add about 1,000 new natural gas-powered trucks to its fleet over the next five years. The trucks are part of the utility’s “green” fleet replacement program that will have residential energy service technicians driving the message that natural gas is the fuel of choice for the road. They will purchase new trucks from original equipment manufacturers (OEM) as well as custom-built natural gas vehicles through a collaborative effort with local Southern California companies. Currently, SoCalGas has about 1,000 natural gas vehicles in its fleet.
This year, for example, the first of 50 custom-built 2011 Chevrolet Silverado trucks are in use in Southern California. Working with Torrance-based Landi Renzo USA, Royal Truck Bodies and Wondries Fleet Group, the trucks are equipped with Landi Renzo/Baytech compressed natural gas fuel systems that are approved by the California Air Resources Board.
“Natural gas vehicles are a real transportation solution today,” said Hal D. Snyder, vice president of customer solutions at SoCalGas. “Natural gas is the ideal fuel for transportation because it’s abundant, affordable, clean and produced domestically, and can serve all segments of the transportation industry. As we work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from our fleet, we encourage the automakers and after-market companies to produce natural gas vehicles, an effort that will result in significant air quality and cost benefits to customers and the region.”
Independent sources estimate the U.S. supply of natural gas will last more than a century. Compressed natural gas currently costs about $2 per gasoline gallon equivalent, offering the public significant fuel costs savings. Another major benefit of compressed natural gas as a transportation fuel is reduced tailpipe emissions. When compared to a gasoline- or diesel-powered vehicle, a natural gas vehicle realizes reduced CO2, NOx, Co and particulate matter (PM).
“SoCalGas should be applauded for setting a good example in the use of cleaner, domestically produced, and less expensive fuel here in Southern California,” said John Sledge, Landi Renzo vice president of sales and marketing. “We are pleased to have been selected as SoCalGas’s partner in this effort.”
Southern California currently has nearly 300 compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling stations serving more than 17,000 natural gas-powered vehicles. SoCalGas plans to expand over the next few years all of its 13 company-owned public-access CNG stations. At its Riverside refueling station, the utility is field testing a new modular CNG “fueling station in a box” technology that takes 20 percent less space and can be installed faster than traditional facilities with separate components installed on the site, thereby offering the potential to significantly reduce capital cost and construction time.
SoCalGas also is a member of a national collaborative, called “Drive Natural Gas Initiative,” made up of North American natural gas utilities and producers focused on advancing natural gas as a fuel for all sectors of transportation, including cars, trucks, buses, and marine and mining equipment.
(This article compiled using information from a SoCalGas press release)