Following President Barack Obama’s introduction of a Secure Energy Future blueprint on March 30, 2011 at Georgetown University, Washington, the Whitehouse issued a Fact Sheet declaring “a key area of opportunity is the large commercial fleets that companies operate across our country every day, which with the proper incentives can offer significant potential reductions in fuel use.” To that end a National Clean Fleets Partnership has been formed.
President Obama, U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood visited a UPS shipping facility in Landover, Maryland to announce the National Clean Fleets Partnership. The five inaugural charter members, AT&T, FedEx, PepsiCo, UPS and Verizon, used the opportunity to introduce various natural gas and other alternative fuel vehicles.
“These companies are leading the way when it comes to building clean fleets, and we need to make sure all our businesses are following their example,” Obama said at the UPS facility. “That’s not only good for your bottom line, that’s good for our country.”
This public-private partnership will help large companies reduce diesel and gasoline use in their fleets by incorporating altyernative fiel technologies and fuel-saving measures into their daily operations. The Department of Energy (DOE) will assist companies in their efforts to reduce fuel use and achieve greater efficiency and cost-savings by offering specialized resources, technical expertise, and support. The partnership is part of the DOE Vehicle Technology Program’s “Clean Cities” initiative.
These charter members represent five of the nation’s 10 largest national fleets and collectively own and operate more than 275,000 vehicles. Their planned current and near-term petroleum reduction strategies will account for the deployment of over 20,000 advanced technology vehicles and annual petroleum displacement in excess of 7 million gallons. The US Department of Energy (DOE) is challenging other companies to join.
In February this year, UPS purchased 48 LNG trucks powered by Westport HD Systems to be used in interstate operations for the Ontario, California to Las Vegas, Nevada route. UPS will have a fleet of more than 1,100 natural gas trucks including compressed natural gas delivery vehicles powered by Cummins Westport engines and the recently purchased LNG tractors. Westport says these LNG trucks are expected to produce 25% fewer greenhouse gas emissions compared to the older diesel trucks and displace 95% of the fuel used by conventional diesel vehicles.
“We are thrilled to have President Obama encouraging the use of natural gas in transportation to reduce emissions and America’s dependence on foreign oil,” said David Demers, CEO of Westport Innovations. “Westport is strategically positioned to support the President’s initiatives by leveraging our proprietary natural gas engine technology and partnering with leading diesel engine and truck OEMs. Westport’s proprietary high pressure direct injection technology allows combustion engines to produce 21% to 27% less greenhouse gas emissions than equivalent diesel engines, enabling fleets to switch to lower-cost, domestically available natural gas.”
AT&T stated that its use of compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles in its corporate vehicle fleet helped the company avoid the purchase of more than one million gallons of traditional petroleum fuel in 2010.
America’s Natural Gas Alliance (ANGA) Executive Vice President Tom Amontree remarked, “It is highly significant that the President of the United States, for the second time in a single week, has noted the vital contribution natural gas vehicles can make to reducing our nation’s dependence on foreign energy and promoting clean air in our communities.”
Large commercial fleets are heavily dependent on petroleum-based fuels (gasoline and diesel) to deliver their goods and services every day. In 2009, there were more than 3 million commercial fleet vehicles on US roads, consuming nearly 4 billion gallons of fuel. Fleets, which are typically centrally managed and comprised of a large number of vehicles, offer significant opportunities to reduce fuel use and carbon pollution.
Through the National Clean Fleets Partnership, the Department of Energy will help companies:
- Reduce fuel use through the use of more efficient vehicles and technologies, including hybrids
- Replace conventional gasoline and diesel vehicles with advanced technology vehicles or ones that use alternative fuels, such as electricity, natural gas, biodiesel, ethanol, hydrogen, or propane