Near-zero emissions natural gas trucks reduce emissions linked to climate change

Source: press release, 11 February 2020

SoCalGas, Cummins Westport, the San Joaquin Air Pollution Control District, and Western Milling unveil new ultra-low emissions truck at World Ag Expo
SoCalGas, Cummins Westport, the San Joaquin Air Pollution Control District, and Western Milling unveil new ultra-low emissions truck at World Ag Expo (photo: SoCalGas)

Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas), officials from the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District and Western Milling, one of the largest and most diverse manufacturers and suppliers of nutrient solutions for plants, animals, and people in the US, unveiled the first of a planned 30 new ultra-low emissions trucks the company will deploy at its operation in Goshen, Calif. The near-zero emissions natural gas trucks will be fueled with renewable natural gas (RNG) that can virtually eliminate smog-forming pollutants and reduce greenhouse gas emissions linked to climate change by as much as 80%. These new trucks are powered by a 12-liter Cummins Westport engine, the first engine of its kind to meet the California Air Resources Board (CARB) optional low NOx standard. In addition, Western Milling revealed plans to open a new public fueling station supplying renewable natural gas in the city of Goshen later this year.

“Through the use of heavy-duty renewable CNG trucks, we’re becoming more sustainable while simultaneously creating value for our employee owners,” says Kevin Kruse, CEO at Western Milling. “It’s good for everyone involved; us, our customers, and the communities in which we serve.”

“The combination of new near‑zero‑emission natural gas engine technology and RNG provides the single best opportunity to achieve immediate and substantial NOx and GHG emission reductions in the on‑road heavy‑duty transportation sector,” says Tom Swenson, business development manager at Cummins Westport. “We are proud to support a near-zero emissions strategy for our customers.”

Western Milling’s investment in its new natural gas trucks was supported by the San Joaquin Air Pollution Control District’s Truck Replacement Program, an initiative to replace on-road diesel trucks with cleaner technology units or to expand fleets with the cleanest technology available – particularly in low income and disadvantaged communities experiencing greater air quality impacts. The program provides funding under its Standard Replacement, 2010 Compliant Replacement, and Fleet Expansion program options.

“As a public health agency serving the San Joaquin Valley, we are committed to improving the health and quality of life for all Valley residents through efficient, effective and entrepreneurial air quality management strategies. We are proud to support local companies investing in switching their diesel fuelled trucks to clean natural gas trucks,” says Samir Sheikh, executive director of Air Pollution Control Officer for the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District. “We applaud Western Milling’s commitment to clean air and public health.”

“At SoCalGas we are committed to raising awareness on how near-zero emissions natural gas trucks can help improve air quality and reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” says Gillian Wright, senior vice president of customer relations at SoCalGas. “A huge congratulations to Western Milling as they invest in their future and cleaner air for the San Joaquin Valley.”

In California, transportation account for more than 40% of greenhouse gas emissions and 80% of smog-forming pollution in the state, with heavy-duty trucks among the largest polluters. In the San Joaquin Valley, car and truck emissions make up about half of all measured airborne particulate matter, according to CARB.

Over the last 5 years, RNG use as a transportation fuel for heavy-duty trucks and buses has increased almost 600%, helping displace over seven million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. That’s equal to the emissions from more than a million homes’ electricity use for 1 year.

RNG is not a fossil fuel. It is a renewable form of energy produced from the methane emissions at dairy farms, wastewater treatment plants, landfills, and other waste streams. Depending on its source, RNG can be carbon negative, meaning it takes out more emissions from the atmosphere than it emits when used as a fuel. Capturing the methane from these waste sources and converting it into RNG keeps greenhouse gas emissions from entering the atmosphere and contributing to climate change and reduces the use of fossil fuels.

SoCalGas has worked with fleet owners to secure millions of dollars in incentive funding for the replacement of diesel trucks with cleaner, new near-zero emissions natural gas trucks. Since 2014, the utility has helped truckers and trucking companies replace more than 550 diesel trucks with clean natural gas trucks. That equates to taking about 30,000 cars off California’s roads. Recently, SoCalGas supported a Los Angeles-Long Beach Port trucking company with their efforts to replace its entire 40 diesel truck fleet with near-zero emissions natural gas trucks.

Each new near-zero emissions natural gas truck that replaces a diesel truck is the equivalent of taking 57 passenger cars off the road.

Last month, SoCalGas opened a new RNG fuelling station in Bakersfield. The new RNG station extends the network of clean natural gas stations across a key regional goods movement corridor in the San Joaquin Valley, which experiences the worst particulate matter pollution in the state, according to CARB. SoCalGas currently operates 15 public RNG fueling stations across its service territory.