Avista adds 10 compressed natural gas (CNG) trucks to its fleet
Meter readers learn how to fill the tank with CNG at
the fill station in the service area on the Avista
CNG – compressed natural gas – is not the natural gas that can heat your home or cook your food. It’s a safe, clean-burning, cost-effective fuel for fleet vehicles. Avista has purchased 10 replacement Chevrolet Silverado half-ton pick-up trucks that run on CNG; seven of those will be allocated to meter readers in Spokane, two to the Spokane line dock and one will stay with Fleet operations. In addition to the CNG tank, the trucks have a 20 gallon gasoline tank, as back-up fuel.
Avista experimented with CNG-powered vehicles about 30 years ago, when the technology for CNG-powered vehicles was in its infancy. Today, the computerized systems within a CNG vehicle make it as easy to operate as a standard gasoline-powered truck. And in keeping with our commitment to environmental stewardship, CNG is a cleaner-burning fuel than gasoline or diesel, so it’s better for the air we breathe. It also helps our country become less dependent on foreign oil, because all of our natural gas supply is produced in North America.
“We’re rolling out CNG vehicles slowly so we can get a good idea how they perform for the kinds of work we do” said Chris Schlothauer, Fleet Manager for Avista. “They seem to operate best on route-type travel, like that which our meter readers drive every day – out from a base, with many stops along the way and then return to the garage.”
“We’ll look at how these trucks perform before we make decisions about expanding the fuel for use in other Avista fleet vehicles. We’re also deciding if and how we might offer CNG to other area businesses as they convert their fleet vehicles to use CNG fuel,” said Ken Boni, Avista strategic initiatives manager.
The trucks have a range of about 250 miles using CNG, averaging 11 to 13 miles per gasoline equivalent gallon, approximately the same as a gasoline-powered truck. And the cost savings from cheaper CNG fuel prices makes these vehicles cost-efficient as well. Typically a CNG gas gallon equivalent costs about $2 less than gasoline at the pump.
Filling up the new trucks is similar to filling up with gasoline – a nozzle is placed in the receptacle on the truck, but instead of hearing the liquid fuel go into the tank, the hiss of natural gas is heard as the tank fills with the gaseous fuel and is measured in pounds per square inch rather than gallons. Plans call for updating the Avista’s CNG fueling stations in Spokane at Mission Avenue and Dollar Road, as well as in Klamath Falls and Coeur d’Alene to replace aging equipment and accommodate new fast-fueling technology.
So when you think about natural gas, look beyond your furnace or your stove. Look out your window and perhaps you’ll see one of Avista’s new CNG-powered fleet vehicles drive by, keeping costs low and the air cleaner.