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Lowe’s launches gas-powered fleet

Lowe’s dedicated fleet at Mount Vernon is among the first serving a major retail distribution center in North America to run solely on natural gas.

The Trucker News Services

10/18/2013

MOORESVILLE, N.C. — As part of its continued commitment to promote responsible transportation practices and sustainable technologies, Lowe’s Thursday announced it has launched a dedicated fleet of natural gas-powered trucks at its regional distribution center in Mount Vernon, Texas.

Lowe’s dedicated fleet at Mount Vernon is among the first serving a major retail distribution center in North America to run solely on natural gas.

With the transition from a diesel-fueled fleet to trucks powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG), Lowe’s expects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions nearly 20 percent and control fuel costs as it transports up to 68 truckloads each day to stores in Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma.

“The transition to an NG-powered fleet was a natural step for Lowe’s because of the economic and environmental benefits of natural gas,” said Steve Palmer, Lowe’s vice president of transportation. “Given the amount of natural gas that’s available domestically, broadly utilizing natural gas will give us an opportunity to better control our transportation fuel costs in the coming years. Our goal is to replace all of our diesel-powered dedicated fleets with natural gas trucks by the end of 2017.”

Lowe’s is working with its truckload carriers to convert their Lowe’s-dedicated fleets. The company began using natural gas trucks last year at its distribution center in Kissimmee, Fla., and teamed with longtime carrier partner NFI to launch the natural gas dedicated fleet in Texas.

“We started on this journey approximately three years ago, and this was the perfect scenario to roll out our first natural gas fleet,” said Ike Brown, NFI vice chairman and owner. “We look forward to continue to develop our sustainability initiatives, as a logistics provider and as a partner with Lowe’s.”

Lowe’s worked with Clean Energy, the largest provider of natural gas fuel for transportation in North America, to research the use of alternative fuels and accelerate the transition to natural gas. Clean Energy will support the NFI fleet by opening a natural gas station in Sulphur Springs, Texas. 

“This is a great model for America — a collaboration between one of the country’s largest shippers and a forward-looking fleet using a fuel that is not only economical but better for the air we breathe,” said Jim Harger, chief marketing officer at Clean Energy.

Encouraging its carriers to convert their dedicated fleets to natural gas underlines Lowe’s commitment to transport products responsibly and press for continuous improvement across the industry.

“We hope our efforts will help build the momentum for others to transition their fleets and spur the development of natural gas vehicles,” Palmer said.

Lowe’s is a member of the Coalition for Responsible Transportation and a longtime supporter of clean-air initiatives at ports in partnership with Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Lowe’s has championed transportation conservation strategies since 2005 as a member of the SmartWay Transport Partnership and has received four consecutive SmartWay awards for its environmental leadership. Since becoming an EPA partner, Lowe’s has generated fuel savings of more than 150 million gallons and carbon savings of 1.7 million tons, the equivalent of removing more than 200,000 cars from America’s roads.

“Lowe’s has been a tremendous partner and real leader in reducing emissions across their supply chain, especially from trucks,” said Elena Craft, EDF health scientist. “EDF believes that natural gas can be a win-win for our country if we work to ensure that natural gas truly does live up to its environmental and economic potential. Natural gas is an important opportunity to make things better for all Americans – and we can seize it if we all work together.”

The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

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