Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) announced Tuesday that it has turned to liquefied natural gas (LNG) to power five of its Class 8 heavy-duty trucks as part of its efforts to run most of its fleet vehicles on alternative fuels. PG&E said it was the first utility in the nation to put Kenworth T800 LNG-powered trucks in service.

The utility said it originally bought the large trucks as diesel units and collaborated on the conversion to LNG with Kenworth and Westport Innovations Inc., a leading developer of natural gas engines and fuel systems.

“The unique fuel system, developed and manufactured by Westport and called High-Pressure Direct Injection (HPDI), uses a small amount of diesel to ignite the natural gas in the engine and provides diesel-equivalent torque, horsepower and a range of 400-450 miles,” PG&E said, noting the resulting reduction in nitrogen oxide, particulate matter and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

PG&E’s LNG trucks are based at one of its Bay Area warehouses, and each truck can rack up 800 miles/day. Use of LNG will cut the fuel costs by 50%, the utility said. One of the trucks is used to demonstrate to some of the utility’s large customers with trucking fleets the economic and environmental benefits of LNG in transportation.

PG&E operates 36 natural gas fueling stations throughout its Northern and central California service territory; 27 of the sites are open to the public. The LNG trucks fuel at the utility’s service center in Fremont, CA, in the East Bay.

“The Kenworth LNG-powered trucks will reduce GHG emissions by 15-20% compared to equivalent diesel engines,” said David Meisel, PG&E transportation services director.

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