EVANSVILLE —Officials at Veolia Environmental Services, which provides waste collection services to 24,000 customers in Tri-State, announced Wednesday it will be replacing its entire fleet of diesel-burning trucks with ones fueled by compressed natural gas.
“Today we are proud to announce that Evansville, Ind., is home to Veolia’s newest fleet of compressed natural gas trucks,” said Dan Elpers, general manager of the solid waste division of the Paris, France-based company, which has its North American headquarters in Chicago.
The conversion also makes Veolia the first waste company in Indiana with CNG trucks, officials pointed out.
“I think it’s great news for the city,” MayorLloyd Winnecke said after checking out the cab of one of the 28 new trucks. “It’s a wonderful investment in the community.”
Most of the dark-green trucks, which are covered in sky blue signs touting the new technology, are already in operation.
They’re front-loader trucks, allowing the driver to pick up business and residential bins without leaving the cab.
The trucks also are equipped with a plethora of safety features, including lights commonly found on emergency vehicles and a rear sensor that automatically locks the brakes if a person is nearby.
“The driver can’t see anyone back here,” said Chad Mark, director of business improvement, giving a demonstration.
The trucks cost about $350,000 apiece.
Officials say the trucks are also quieter: Mark said engine noise is similar to that of a pickup truck.
The entire project — which included an on-site compressor — cost about $12 million, and officials said the company is trying to convert about two facilities a year.
There are about 50 sites in the U.S., and the facility at 12900 Warrick County Line Road is the third location where CNG trucks have been rolled out.
Evansville was chosen because of a state grant of about $500,000, the natural gas infrastructure — which Vectren built for this project — and the fact that it has a flat topography, officials said, among other factors.
Company officials say Veolia is moving in the direction of natural gas for several reasons, including the fact that it’s clean, domestic, abundant and cheaper than gas.
Mark said the price of natural gas has recently been between $1.40 and $1.70 a gallon compared to about $4 a gallon for diesel fuel.
When asked if the company would pass the savings to customers, Mark said: “Not right away. It’s like a five-year payback for most of the CNG capital.”