New York City – Town of Smithtown NY Chooses CNG to Cut Refuse Collection Costs


Faced with rising refuse collection costs, the Town of Smithtown, New York, decided to require its refuse collection contractors to use compressed natural gas (CNG) trucks. It was the first New York municipality to institute such a requirement. On January 1, 2007, the 30 contractor-owned diesel refuse trucks collecting solid waste and recyclables from the town’s 116,000 residents were replaced by 22 CNG models.

Smithtown selected four bidders for seven-year contracts: Brothers Carting, Dejana Industries, Jody Industries, and V. Garafalo Carting. The companies were responsible for buying the new CNG trucks. To offset the higher cost for these trucks versus diesel trucks, the companies had the option of claiming the Federal Alternative Motor Vehicle Credit for up to 80% of the incremental cost. An alliance of local organizations helped the contractors find financing options.

To establish CNG fueling infrastructure, Smithtown partnered with natural gas supplier Clean Energy. With no leasing agreements, access fees, or capital outlay for Smithtown, the contract required Clean Energy to provide the fueling infrastructure and commission local service providers. Because of Smithtown’s new contract with the refuse collectors, Clean Energy had to complete the fueling station in six months–two to four months faster than it usually takes to locate a station, obtain permits, and secure a compressor.

To accomplish this, Clean Energy received permission from the New York Department of Transportation (NYDOT) and Office of General Services to allow expansion of a station in nearby Hauppauge, which Clean Energy already operated for New York State. The Hauppauge expansion supported NYDOT’s goal to increase natural gas use as a vehicle fuel and brought additional revenue to the state of $0.05 per gasoline gallon equivalent. Clean Energy expanded the Hauppauge volumetric gas flow rate from 15 to 2,000 scfm and opened the station within four months.Smithtown entered into an agreement on fuel pricing with Clean Energy through 2013. CNG costs for the refuse trucks started at $2.33 per diesel gallon equivalent (DGE) through 2008 and increase each year to conclude at $2.94 per DGE in 2013. The contracted CNG price could decrease if the price differential between diesel and CNG goes above a set threshold.

“Controlling refuse collection costs for town residents was the primary reason Smithtown chose CNG,” explained the coordinator of the Greater Long Island Clean Cities Coalition. “The commitment from Clean Energy to set a stable fuel price was very important.” Switching to CNG provides environmental and energy-security benefits for Smithtown.

The CNG refuse trucks are projected over the life of the contract to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides by 265 tons and particulate matter by 15 tons. Smithtown also expects to displace more than 1.5 million DGE of petroleum-based fuel.The benefits are amplified when other towns adopt a similar strategy. Smithtown’s success inspired nearby Brookhaven to plan the deployment of 67 CNG trucks in 2009 in a similar effort.

Clean Cities inspired Smithtown’s move to CNG. In May 2006, Russell Barnett, Smithtown’s Environmental Protection Director, saw a Clean Cities alternative fuel presentation at the Federation of New York Solid Waste Associations Solid Waste/Recycling Conference & Trade Show in Bolton Landing, New York. The presentation persuaded him that CNG was the best choice for Smithtown’s refuse fleet. For more information, contact Russell Barnett.

Source: United States Department of Energy (DOE)

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US Watchdog Questions Ethanol’s Future as a Fuel


U.S. government financial analysts say ethanol production may have no long-term CO2 benefits.

The rise of ethanol as a fossil-fuel alternative in the US has been responsible for around 10 to 15 per cent of the recent increases in food prices and could adversely impact habitats, according to a financial watchdog.

A report released last week by the US Congressional Budget Office (CBO), entitled The Impact of Ethanol Use on Food Prices and Greenhouse-Gas Emissions, warns that rising food prices and other environmental side-effects raise questions about the viability of ethanol as an alternative to fossil fuels.

In a blog posting to coincide with the release of the report, CBO director Douglas Elmendorf said that questions need to be asked about whether the environmental impact of ethanol production makes sense compared to the reduction in carbon emissions created by using it as a fossil fuel alternative.

“Research suggests that in the short run, the production, distribution, and consumption of ethanol will create about 20 per cent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than the equivalent processes for gasoline,” wrote Elmendorf. “In the long run, if increases in the production of ethanol led to a large amount of forests or grasslands being converted into new cropland, those changes in land use could more than offset any reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions – because forests and grasslands naturally absorb more carbon from the atmosphere than cropland absorbs.”

The CBO report also concludes that cellulosic ethanol production may be more sustainable than using food crops to produce the fuel.

“In the future, the use of cellulosic ethanol, which is made from wood, grasses, and agricultural plant wastes rather than corn, might reduce greenhouse-gas emissions more substantially, but current technologies for producing cellulosic ethanol are not yet commercially viable,” wrote Elmendorf.

News Source: Business Green

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