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Special Report: Fleets

Lower Costs and Emissions Continue to Drive Conversion to CNG

Despite lower diesel prices remaining steady and with the added caveat of a tax credit extension for alternative fuels, waste haulers remain committed to converting their fleets to compressed natural gas (CNG).

Marty Tufte, corporate fleet director for Waste Management, says the Houston-based company continues to add CNG trucks to its fleet, while also focusing on the needed infrastructure to fuel them.

At the end of the fourth quarter, Waste Management's fleet included 5,021 natural gas trucks. It also operated 84 fueling stations in North America, of which 25 are also open to the public, with three additional stations open to contracted third-party fleets.

“Our North American fleet includes 32,174 collection and support vehicles, and 18,949 of these are dedicated to collection. We are committed to reducing the environmental impacts of these vehicles and reducing our emissions and improving our fuel efficiency,” says Tufte. “We strive to purchase nearly 90 percent of our new trucks with CNG.”

Harland Chadbourne, director of purchasing for Waste Pro USA, says the Longwood, Fla.-based company is continuing with its five-year-old plan to use CNG engines.

“Waste Pro made a decision in 2011 to pursue a CNG growth strategy and convert its fleet to clean burning natural gas. Our adoption of CNG has not changed or slowed down with the fluctuations in diesel prices,” he says. “The lower diesel prices have certainly helped our costs to operate our fleet, but haven’t changed our plans to convert. We have also seen continued interest from cities and municipalities to move toward natural gas fueling.”

Chadbourne says that about 12 percent of Waste Pro’s fleet, or 210 trucks, are CNG-powered.

“Our CNG truck purchases are very dependent on our growth. We can estimate that over the next 12 months we anticipate purchasing 30 to 50 trucks based on sales projections,” he says. “Since the beginning of the year, Waste Pro USA has committed to build two new CNG fuel stations as well as expand and upgrade one of its current CNG facilities.”

Tufte says the benefits of using CNG over diesel fuel are lower fuel cost and lower emissions.

“In a recent fuel calculation diesel was $2.008 a gallon and the diesel gallon equivalent for CNG was $1.62,” he says.

CNG is a safe and reliable fuel source that burns cleaner than diesel and gasoline fuels, says Chadbourne.

“Natural gas usage allows Waste Pro to reduce our dependency on petroleum-based fuels and helps us to manage the supply and demand volatility that comes with imported fuels. Also, our customers prefer our use of the fuel as many of them have complimented on how quiet our trucks operate when compared to the diesel trucks,” he says. “We have also seen our price for natural gas come down in cost along with the price decreases seen with diesel fuel.”

Tufte says no other technologies are as cost effective and reliable as CNG.

“We've explored hybrid and electric and continue to look at all technologies,” he says.

Chadbourne agrees that CNG is the best option for Waste Pro’s fleet.

“We have looked at other options but CNG continues to be our green fuel of choice,” he says.

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