On April 19, Colorado Governor Bill Ritter signed into law the Colorado Clean Air-Clean Jobs Act, which will retire or retrofit older coal-fired power plants and embrace greater use of natural gas and other clean energy sources. This landmark legislation has unified lawmakers from both parties, as well as stakeholders throughout Colorado including power companies, natural gas companies, and the business and environmental communities.
Under this approach, which is currently before the Colorado Public Utilities Commission:
This effort demonstrates that natural gas is ready now to play a growing role in communities across the nation, as they search for cleaner sources of energy and powerful new opportunities to fuel new job creation and economic growth.
This June, after a year of formal and informal meetings, including those of the Louisiana Renewable Task Force, the state's Public Service Commission approved a Renewable Energy Pilot Program in lieu of a mandate-based renewable portfolio standard that would have required 12.5% RPS in the state. The pilot program includes combined heat & power (CHP), also known as cogeneration, in the definition of renewable energy.
According to the PSC staff, the program will allow the Commission to accomplish its stated policy goals of providing:
By including CHP in the renewables definition, the LPSC explicitly recognized that natural gas should be a central player in Louisiana's renewable energy policy. CHP, along with waste heat, is expected to set the floor price in the long term renewable energy RFP that the utilities are required to submit, saving consumers - and the state - money, while cleaning the air, and building on the 267,000 jobs natural gas already supported in the state by 2008.
In June, 2010, the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) granted Progress Energy Carolinas approval to build a 620 MW, natural gas plant as part of its effort to shut down its older "un-scrubbed" coal units over the next several years, saying it was actually cheaper to build a new natural gas plant than add the environmental controls to existing coal plants that would be required to keep them operational. The newly approved certificate requires Progress to retire the three coal units, totaling about 600 MW, when the new gas unit comes online.
The new unit, scheduled to come online in 2014, will comprise two combustion turbines, two heat recovery steam generators and a steam turbine.
"[I]t is more cost-effective for [Progress] to retire its existing coal-fired Sutton units and replace them with the proposed generating facility than to install the environmental controls and incur the handling, disposal and storage costs necessary to allow their continued operation," The NCUC said in its order.
The NCUC also agreed with Progress that simply retiring the coal units is not an option, given the needed voltage support that the Sutton plant provides to the portion of the utility's service area in southeastern North Carolina.
Progress' combined-cycle power plant will reduce CO2 emissions by 40-50% along with a more than 95% drop in NOx emissions and a virtual elimination of sulfur dioxide and mercury emissions.
The State of California - known for its progressive views on environmental issues and the reduction of greenhouse gases - has embraced the use of natural gas as a major part of its energy plans. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has committed the state to an energy portfolio that is economic, diverse, dependable and environmentally sound. Natural gas plays a big part in that plan.
Natural gas is the #1 choice for electricity generation in California, providing an estimated 46.5% of California's electric power, according to the California Energy Commission's 2008 Energy Almanac.
California has been an innovator in partnering natural gas with renewable energy to ensure the reliability of its electric power supply. A plant jointly operated by FPL Energy, Luz and Southern California Edison provides solar power during sunny hours and uses natural gas as a backup and for summer peaks in demand, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory of the U.S. Department of Energy. The 80-megawatt plant is a good illustration of using two environmentally friendly energy sources in tandem - solar power and low-emission natural gas - to deliver reliable electric power for the Harper Lake area in the Mojave Desert.
UPS' switch to compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles has been a great success story. UPS operates one of the largest private fleets of alternative fuel vehicles and was one of the first to switch to clean and abundant natural gas when the company converted and deployed CNG-powered delivery trucks in the 1980s.
Dedicated to reducing emissions and to lowering its carbon footprint, UPS recently added 245 new CNG-fueled delivery trucks to cities in Colorado and California, bringing UPS' CNG vehicle total to more than 1,100 trucks. UPS also recently ordered 48 new LNG-powered tractors, adding to the 11 already in service that transport more than 31,000 packages a day along the West Coast.
Since 2000, UPS' "green fleet" has traveled more than 165 million miles, making a significant impact on their carbon footprint. A study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory found UPS' CNG trucks yield much lower emissions than the cleanest operating diesel trucks: carbon monoxide output was 75% lower; nitrogen oxides 49% lower; and carbon dioxide output was 7% lower.
AT&T has made a bold commitment to reducing emissions by championing clean, abundant and American natural gas. In 2009, AT&T pledged $565 million over the next decade to replace more than 15,000 fleet trucks with alternative-fuel vehicles - more than half of which will be powered by compressed natural gas.
AT&T recently deployed the 2000th CNG-powered vehicle in its corporate vehicle fleet, giving it one of the largest CNG vehicle fleets in the U.S. Deploying one of the biggest green fleets doesn't satisfy AT&T's immense green goals. The company plans to purchase approximately 6,000 additional CNG vehicles over the next five years.
The results for the environment and the company's pockets are staggering. According to the Center for Automotive Research, AT&T's alternative fuel vehicle initiative will reduce carbon emissions by 211,000 metric tons - the greenhouse gas equivalent of removing 38,600 passenger vehicles from the road for one year - and also will save the company 49 million gallons of gasoline over the 10-year deployment period. Proud of its contribution to reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil, AT&T is currently working to encourage the expansion of support infrastructure for alternative-fuel vehicles in order to get more fuel-efficient cars on the road.
In addition to statewide public-infrastructure initiatives to champion natural gas use, the City of Ogden has completed work on its first CNG station, which will be used to fuel 10 specially equipped refuse trucks. The city will save an estimated $135,000 a year on fuel costs with the new clean burning vehicles, which will pay for the trucks and offset the construction costs for the new fueling station.
Ogden hopes deployment of these vehicles will benefit the environment by reducing emissions, while promoting the city's clean image. "We have positioned Ogden as the world's high adventure recreation capital, and cleaner air is a vital element of that image," said Mayor Matthew Godfrey.
On a statewide level, the Utah Clean Cities Coalition's Clean Cities Transportation Sector Petroleum Reduction Technologies Program includes plans for 16 new CNG public fueling stations, three new LNG facilities, as well as upgrades to existing stations. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that this initiative will help displace 1.1 million gallons of foreign oil annually, as well as result in notably lower emissions.
In 1996, Kansas City, Missouri instituted a fleet-wide alternative fuel program. Today, they are seeing the positive effects. The program, starting with six CNG-powered vehicles in 1996, has expanded to approximately 2,700 CNG-powered vehicles.
Touting some of the largest rigs to run on CNG, Kansas City also will be one of the first cities to use CNG-powered Heavy-Duty Class 8 trucks in normal city operations. The alternative fuel program extends to the Kansas City International Airport, where 35 shuttle buses transport passengers with clean natural gas.
Currently offering four fast-fill CNG stations, Kansas City is expanding its CNG infrastructure, with two fast-fill fueling stations in the construction phase. By switching much of their fleet to CNG, the city displaces nearly a half a million gallons of foreign oil each year.
Kansas City has experienced not only a 15% saving on fuel costs, but significantly lowered air emissions. The EPA estimates the use of CNG will yield 90-97% lower carbon monoxide output, 35-60% lower nitrogen oxides emissions, and reductions in carbon dioxide output of 25%.
Seattle has quickly expanded its natural gas fleets by partnering with private companies to integrate CNG-powered garbage trucks and cabs into the city's public services and airport taxi and shuttle system.
In 2009, Waste Management of Seattle invested $29 million in 106 new CNG-fueled vehicles to replace diesel-run trucks. The company plans to replace the remaining 75 trucks within five years. As part of its new contract with the City of Seattle, Waste Management also invested $7.5 million in a new central fueling station, which is open to the public.
An independent environmental review produced by Gladstein, Neandross & Associates, an environmental consulting firm, determined Waste Management's equipment upgrade will reduce smog-causing NOx emissions by 97%, diesel particulate matter by 94% and greenhouse gases by 20%, over current levels. Residents of Seattle are also pleased with the major reduction in noise pollution, since natural gas vehicles not only run cleaner--but also quieter.
Seattle also partnered with Clean Energy to open Washington's first large scale, public access CNG fueling station, near the Sea-Tac Airport. The station is convenient for the 74 natural gas and hybrid vehicles in use as the airport, as well as the fleet of taxis operated by the Seattle-Tacoma International Taxicab Association. All 166 Ford Crown Victoria cabs operated by the association are fueled by natural gas. And, they are expected to make a substantial and positive impact on the city's air quality. It's estimated the CNG-powered fleet will produce 149 fewer tons of carbon monoxide and 24 fewer tons of nitrogen oxides each year than comparable gasoline-power vehicles.
As cities across the U.S. look for ways to lower emissions by switching diesel fleets to compressed natural gas, Los Angeles leads the nation, with the country's the largest fleet of clean CNG buses. The City's 2,214 CNG buses have logged nearly a billion clean air miles -- reducing particulate matter by more than 80 percent and eliminating 300,000 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions per day.
The city's Bureau of Sanitation has strived to convert its entire fleet of heavy-duty trucks to natural gas, with over half run on CNG or LNG. The bureau operates 400 CNG- or LNG-powered collection trucks. This clean trash fleet is expected to produce 24-45% lower nitrogen oxides emissions and more than 90% lower particulate matter emissions compared with the diesel models. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that the project will displace an estimated 1.8 million gallons of foreign oil annually.
The nation's capital has fittingly led by example by embracing natural gas buses. Nearly one third of Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority's fleet of more than 1,500 buses operates on CNG.
The switch has already proven successful. The transportation authority conducted a study of average diesel-fueled buses versus their new CNG buses, and found the natural gas buses have 53% lower nitrogen oxides emissions, 85% lower total particulate emissions, and 89% lower carbon monoxide emissions. DC's parking enforcement division has also jumped on the bandwagon. Most of its vehicles are now dedicated CNG Honda Civics.
Smithtown, New York laid down the "green" law when they required all refuse-recycling trucks serving the community to switch from diesel-powered trucks to CNG by 2007. Town officials conservatively estimate the switch will save residents an average of $40 per household over the next seven years while simultaneously displacing more than 2.5 million gallons of diesel fuel. The 22 new CNG trucks also are projected to cut emissions of nitrogen oxides by 265 tons and particulate matter by 15 tons, over seven years.
In addition, the Greater Long Island Clean Cities Coalition's Long Island Regional Energy Collaborative is promoting a green economy through clean transportation. The project will fund five CNG stations and 87 heavy-duty trucks throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates this project will help displace 351,000 gallons of foreign oil annually.
San Bernardino County is spending $19.3 million in state and federal stimulus funds to go green. The county has teamed up with Ryder Systems, a transportation company, to deploy 200 CNG and LNG trucks in a truck rental and leasing project. The trucks will be available throughout Ryder's Southern California operations network, where Ryder's customers will be able to access them through short-term rentals, long-term leases, or from Ryder's logistics services. Ryder also will build new natural gas refueling stations in the region, helping others make the switch to natural gas vehicles, as well. When fully implemented, this project will displace more than 1.5 million gallons of diesel fuel annually with domestically produced low-carbon LNG and CNG alternatives. The partnership also will reduce air emissions by more than 4,000 tons of greenhouse gases, more than 131 tons of smog-inducing nitrogen oxides, and 2.65 tons of particulate emissions in the county each year. All of those benefits for the environment come with job creation, too. Preliminary project estimates and analyses indicate the project will contribute more than 400 green automotive jobs.