“As we were collecting the data from the cities, towns and municipalities” -adds Underwood- “we realized that the immediate health and environmental gains have been much bigger than we expected.” Energy Vision’s research found that the shift from diesel to natural gas trucks cut soot emissions, a major risk factor for respiratory and cardio-vascular diseases, by 97,230 pounds per year and emissions of NOx, a lung irritant, by 837,445 pounds a year, protecting the 20 million people in this region, especially those who are most vulnerable: children and the elderly. The report also found that the fleets’ shift to natural gas cut greenhouse gases – the biggest contributor to climate change – by about 25.1 million pounds (12.5 thousand tons) a year.
According to Tomorrow’s Trucks, the shift away from diesel trucks in the U.S. got underway first on the West Coast, where, by 2003, 23 California communities had 648 natural gas trucks in operation. But East Coast cities and communities did not really begin to use this new fuel until five years later.
Before 2007, only a handful of trucks powered by compressed natural gas (CNG) were used in the Northeast. But in 2007, 38 were ordered, and over the next five years, Energy Vision’s report documents that they were being used in 13 communities, and the number of trucks rose ten-fold – from 38 to 381. Those communities include New York City (33); Long Island – Smithtown (23), Brookhaven (67), Huntington (32), Village of East Rockaway (2), and Oyster Bay (49); and in New Jersey – Atlantic County (15), Camden (70), Fairfield (14), Hamilton Township (20), Mount Arlington (17), Newark (25) and Ocean View (14). “Many of these communities”, added Underwood, “seeing the value of natural gas, then began to use it in other types of vehicles, such as street sweepers, snow plows, jitneys, sedans, etc.”
The use of these trucks has required the build-out of natural gas refueling infrastructure, and a new industry emerged to meet this need. Of the 71 refueling stations in the region, Clean Energy built, owns or operates the most CNG refueling stations (21), followed by Trillium CNG (6), Engineered Energy Solutions (2), and Air &Gas Technologies (1). The remainders are primarily utility-owned and operated.
Source: Energy Vision.