In the midst of a regional trucking transportation hub in the Inland Empire 50 miles east of downtown Los Angeles, a regional government association is leveraging state and federal grants totaling nearly $20 million with a major national trucking company, Ryder System Inc., to put hundreds of compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG) rigs on the road.

It is being dubbed as the first-ever heavy duty natural gas-powered truck rental and leasing project, bankrolled by a combination of Ryder, a $9.9 million U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) grant and a $9.3 million stipend from the California Energy Commission (CEC).

The state and federal alternative energy vehicle technology programs will allow the San Bernardino Associated Governments (SANBAG) to work with Ryder to put 202 heavy duty CNG or LNG-powered trucks into the truck operator's Southern California operations, a network of 1,200 customers representing more than 6,000 heavy duty trucks.

In this case the customers will access the clean fuel heavy duty vehicles through short-term rentals and long-term leases of Ryder logistics services.

The Southern California Association of Governments and an environmental consulting firm are also involved in the program. Now that the contracts are completed and the federal and state grants in place, Ryder will take the lead in ordering the first 70 LNG/CNG trucks and in constructing two LCNG fueling stations in Orange and Rancho Cucamonga, CA. Ryder also plans to begin upgrading its existing maintenance facilities where the newly purchased natural gas trucks will be kept.

The project proponents said that when fully implemented, the project will displace more than 1.3 million gallons of diesel now burned annually with 100% domestically produced low-carbon LNG and CNG. "It will also contribute to the maintenance and creation of more than 400 U.S. green automotive jobs located in regions of the country that have been the hardest hit from the current economic downturn," said a project spokesperson.

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