DiRico to Waste Fleet Conference: NYC needs separate filling stations, real estate to make a full switch to CNG
As the Big Apple's government moves toward consolidating its agencies' fleet services and reaching environmental goals, consolidating fuel operations for its sanitation fleet has proved a challenge.
An executive order by Mayor Michael Bloomberg directed the consolidation of fleet services citywide in an effort to reduce costs by eliminating redundant functions and standardizing services. But the sanitation department's decentralized operations make it difficult to roll out cleaner fuel alternatives to all refuse trucks, said Rocco DiRico, deputy commissioner in the New York City Department of Sanitation, during a June 27 keynote address at the Waste Fleet Conference in Indianapolis. The event is co-organized by Waste & Recycling News and GSP Marketing Inc.
DiRico currently oversees a fleet of roughly 7,000 vehicles for New York City, including 2,500 collection trucks as well as street sweepers, salt spreaders and other vehicles.
DSNY serves 59 community board districts, each independently operated and self-sufficient, with its own trucks, drivers and fuel resources.
"Everything has to be in that garage. We don't borrow, we don't share," DiRico said. "We're decentralized; we only share and borrow when we fail. So the objective here is to never have to ask your neighbor for help."
The department's fleet already includes many alternative fuel-powered vehicles, including 43 refuse trucks powered by compressed natural gas, but the divided nature of sanitation operations makes widespread implementation of CNG a "tremendous challenge," DiRico said. Providing natural gas to the entire DSNY fleet would require a fueling station in each of the 59 districts.
"We just don't have the real estate or the pipe volume, the utility volume, to provide for that," DiRico said. "What would have to happen is those districts would have to go somewhere else to get natural gas ... and we're not prepared to do that right now."
Switching to a centralized fueling system would be a huge undertaking, but one the department is considering for the future. DiRico said he's hoping someone will develop a solution, perhaps a vertical or stackable system to save space.
The department's existing CNG trucks have proved they can do the work, even doubling as snow plows in the winter; infrastructure is the final obstacle, DiRico said.
"Everyone wants to move to natural gas. Natural gas is great. [It's a] great commodity, it's domestic, it's cheap, it's wonderful, but it by itself could not be the solution for New York City, particularly because infrastructure in New York City for natural gas is nonexistent," he said.
Also as part of the executive order, DSNY was given responsibility for the repair and maintenance of the city's medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. DiRico has been working to bring 1,000 new vehicles up to maintenance standards.
With an average age of 14 years, the vehicles required a lot of maintenance work. Immediately after the acquisition, the vehicles' downtime was very high as maintenance workers got them up to snuff.
"Initially, the down numbers were through the roof, because when we got these vehicles, they needed a lot of attention, because they were very old. But by implementing our preventative maintenance practices, it took three or four [40-day] cycles to stabilize them, and as old as they are, the down rates are much more acceptable and things are moving along," he said.
I think that, as usual, the people in power in NY are bullshitting the rest of us. They could switch any time they wanted. There is something else, like a contact/payoff going on in the fuel system, and union contract, or supply agreement, or something like that.
CLNE owns IMW Industries, which supplied compressors and refueling equipment used in the CNG side of the business. If NYC really wanted to make a switch, they could. The real challenge for New York is being honest and efficient.
Sounds like to me the is a NYC problem and not CLNE energy. I don't care what business you are in having 59 facilities in one city that have the exact same equipment and all operate independently is not the best way to handle anything logistically. I understand that you could not have one facility has the size, scope, travel distances etc would not be practical but I find it hard to believe they could not consolidate to 8-12 facilities and run much more efficiently.
Do you think Walmart has 59 stores in one region and they don't share central warehousing, trucking, purchasing, facilities mantainence depts., etc, etc.