Natural Gas – Conversions, Vehicles and Technology

Milwaukee Rolls Out Last of 22 CNG Refuse Trucks

May 20, 2015, by Thi Dao

Photo courtesy of City of Milwaukee
Photo courtesy of City of Milwaukee

The City of Milwaukee, Wis., put the last of its new 22 compressed natural gas (CNG) refuse trucks on the road on May 14. The purchases, totaling $5.97 million, spanned three years, but the trucks were delivered between October 2014 and January 2015. As they were delivered, fleet staff worked to prep them, installing communications equipment, GPS tracking devices, and a fueling system, said Jeff Tews, CPFP, fleet operations manager for the city.

The city purchased the trucks during the 2012, 2013, and 2014 budget cycles. They all came from one contract, a two-year contract with an optional third-year extension. By purchasing this way, the city got a lower price, Tews said. The trucks are all Crane Carrier Corporation LET2s with Leach 2RIII bodies. 

"One unique feature about these new trucks is the 66 diesel gallon equivalent tank system installed on the frame rails under the body, instead of behind the cab," Tews said. "This feature allows the use of a shorter wheelbase and subsequent tighter turning radius, which is crucial for use in some of the narrow alleys in Milwaukee."

During the winter, they are used for snow plowing.

The additional cost for trucks that run on CNG was $39,300 per truck, and grant funding (federal funds administered by the state) paid for 80% of this cost.

“Milwaukee residents appreciate the cleaner emissions and how quiet these trucks are when moving through neighborhoods,” said Department of Public Works Commissioner Ghassan Korban. “There is a higher initial expense, but with CNG fuel costs less than half that of diesel, Milwaukee estimates a return on investment in less than six years.”

Employees will fuel the trucks at the city's two public-private fast-fill stations and at its sequential time-fill station.

Tews said the city averages six or seven new refuse trucks per year, and he plans to purchase six more this year.

“Eventually, we would like to convert the entire refuse fleet to CNG,” he said. The city has 121 refuse trucks, and 45 of them run on CNG. An additional eight cargo vans and cars are CNG-powered.

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