HEMET, CA - Verizon's first major introduction of environmentally-friendly compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles to its truck fleets in California is being led by workers at the Hemet facility of Steelweld Equipment Co., a woman-owned business headquartered in St. Clair, Mo.

Verizon has contracted with Steelweld to convert 300 gasoline-powered Ford E-250 cargo vans to CNG, a move that will reduce vehicle carbon emissions by 480 tons per year, according to the telecommunications company. On average, CNG engines emit 23-percent less carbon dioxide than comparable gasoline-powered vans.

The 300 new vans being retrofitted by Steelweld will be used in Southern California by Verizon technicians who install and repair broadband, TV, and voice communications services for the company's residential and small-business customers.

"These new CNG vans aren't the first alternative fuel vehicles we've deployed in California, but they constitute one of our largest introductions to date," said Margaret Serjak, Verizon's operations president in California.

The 300 vans are among the more than 1,600 alternative energy vehicles that Verizon plans to add to its nationwide fleet this year. The total also includes 470 vehicles powered by biodiesel and flex-fuel (E85) and will increase to more than 1,800 the number of alternative energy vehicles in Verizon's fleet by the end of 2010. The program is expected to help reduce the fleet's CO2 emissions by more than 2,400 metric tons annually. 

In addition to replacing traditional fuel vehicles with cleaner, lower-carbon alternatives, Verizon employees have been reducing CO2 emissions by cutting engine idling times. Since 2008, Verizon employees have conserved more than 2.7 million gallons of fuel in this manner, the equivalent amount of greenhouse gas emitted by about 4,580 vehicles annually.   

On the other side of the country, Verizon also recently announced the addition of more than 260 hybrid vehicles to its New Jersey fleet this year as part of its ongoing commitment to conserving fuel, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and contributing to improved air quality in the communities it serves across the Garden State.

Verizon New Jersey officials, joined by Bob Martin, commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), made the announcement Sept. 30 at the company's corporate center in Basking Ridge.

The new vehicles - part of the 1,600 alternative-energy vehicles Verizon plans to add to its fleet across the country this year - will include Toyota hybrid sedans, Chevrolet hybrid pickup trucks and unique, new "mild hybrid" aerial fiber splicing trucks. 

The Chevrolet hybrid pickups will be used by FiOS and traditional telephone customer-service technicians and are expected to reduce CO2 emissions by 43 percent over the vans they will replace.

Verizon is ranked No. 3 on Automotive Fleet's 2010 Top 300 Commercial Fleets listing.

Related stories:

Verizon to Add More Than 260 Hybrid Vehicles to Its Fleet in New Jersey

Verizon Honored for Natural Gas Efforts

Verizon to Add 576 Chevrolet Hybrids to Fleet

Verizon to Deploy 501 CNG Vans


Originally posted on Automotive Fleet