Similar to Removing 280 Vehicles
Winning Community Support
Recycling 478 Tons of Landfill Waste
Many cities and towns across the U.S. rely on diesel fuel for their various service vehicles, and the volatility of diesel prices has made it difficult for these municipalities to manage their budgets. Soon after a significant spike in the price of diesel caused by Hurricane Katrina, Smithtown, New York faced this problem head on and began switching their service fleets to natural gas, becoming one of the earliest compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling pioneers in North America. The lower price of CNG was clearly a benefit, but equally important was the long-term fixed nature of that price. “We were able to save money on the fuel and have a much more predictable budget,” says Russell Barnett, Smithtown’s Environmental Protection Director.
CNG for All Types of Vehicles
The switch to CNG began with Smithtown’s fleet of refuse trucks and the results were so overwhelmingly positive that additional municipal vehicles like snowplows, street sweepers and shuttle buses were quickly added.
A Cleaner, Quieter, Happier Community
The environmental impact of switching to CNG has proven to benefit the local community tremendously. Every town strives for increased sustainability these days, and Smithtown’s CNG efforts yield a reduction in emissions (including greenhouse gases) of over 1,300 metric tons annually. That’s roughly equivalent to recycling 478 tons of landfill waste or removing nearly 280 gasoline burning vehicles from the streets of Smithtown every single year. Cleaner, quieter trucks have made residents happy and have undoubtedly improved the quality of life in Smithtown.
In addition to converting its own fleet, Smithtown was the first municipality on Long Island to mandate the use of CNG refuse trucks for private companies who service the town. Today 25 private CNG refuse trucks service Smithtown’s solid waste and recycling program. In 2006, this Waste Collection Contractor Program received a Natural Gas Vehicle (NGV) Industry Achievement Award from the Clean Vehicle Education Foundation & NGV America. And that wasn’t the only recognition Smithtown has seen for its efforts. In 2008 the Greater Long Island Clean Cities Coalition presented Town Supervisor Patrick R. Vecchio with their Alternative Fuels Trailblazer Award, and two years later in 2010, Russell Barnett was presented with the Energy Vision Leadership Award. Smithtown’s innovative NGV program has also been the subject of a number of articles and video productions in both regional and national press.
“Cleaner, quieter trucks have made residents happy and have undoubtedly improved the quality of life in Smithtown.”
Convenient, Reliable Fuel Access with Clean Energy Stations
Any successful vehicle-fuel conversion process (especially ones with mandates like Smithtown) requires building and maintaining fueling stations that are convenient and worry free. To ensure the Smithtown fleet had reliable fueling access, Clean Energy’s expert station design team developed, constructed and now operates and maintains two fueling stations (one in Smithtown and the other in nearby Hauppauge) that fuel the municipal fleet and those private businesses that serve in the area. These stations, which were even kept operational during the devastating Hurricane Sandy, have been an additional revenue source for the town. Smithtown receives monthly rent and, through third party sales, royalty revenue to invest back into the community.
Smithtown officials and more importantly, its residents, have been so pleased with the switch to CNG, that they have become evangelists for the fuel. Over a dozen nearby Long Island community servicing organizations have followed Smithtown’s cost-saving, forward-thinking example.
Lastly, to be fair to all sides of the story, Barnett’s team did receive one complaint about the cleaner and quieter CNG refuse trucks: a resident who preferred to put his trash out in the morning when he heard the truck approaching missed his trash pickup three times in three weeks because he couldn’t hear the new quieter CNG truck coming down his street.