• Mar 11th 2009 at 2:56PM
  • 11
Click above to watch video after the jump

Although AT&T claims it wants to be more sustainable, today's announcement from the telecom behemoth is more about cutting operating expenses as fuel costs climb. Whatever the reason, the addition of 15,000 alternative fuel vehicles to the company's fleet over the next decade is a good thing. The phone company will be spending as much as $565 million over that time period to turn over much of its fleet of service and support vehicles.

Approximately 8,000 compressed natural gas fueled trucks and vans will deployed, starting mainly in California where there are already a significant number of CNG filling stations available. AT&T will also work with suppliers to install up to 40 more CNG stations in the areas where it operates.

Passenger cars that are used by customer service personnel will also be replaced with new hybrid vehicles. The first 800 vehicles will be put into service this year. Check out the video and press release after the jump.

[Source: AT&T]


AT&T to Deploy More Than 15,000 Alternative-Fuel Vehicles

Makes Largest Commitment to Compressed Natural Gas to Date by a U.S. Company; Part of 10-Year Commitment to Spend up to $565 Million on Alternative-Fuel Vehicles

Dallas, Texas, March 11, 2009

Through an initiative that highlights the growing demand for cleaner domestic vehicles, AT&T* today announced plans to invest up to $565 million as part of a long-term strategy to deploy more than 15,000 alternative-fuel vehicles over the next 10 years. AT&T expects to spend an estimated $350 million to purchase about 8,000 Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) vehicles and approximately $215 million to begin replacing its passenger cars with alternative-fuel models.

AT&T's investment represents the largest U.S. corporate commitment to CNG vehicles to date. The new deployments will bring AT&T's alternative-fuel fleet to more than 15,000 vehicles by 2019.

"AT&T and other U.S. corporations have a unique opportunity to partner with the new administration as it works to lead the country out of this economic downturn," said Randall Stephenson, chairman and chief executive officer of AT&T Inc. "While there are no easy solutions to the challenges facing our nation, this investment is a first step on our part to help boost other industries while at the same time encouraging wider use and production of efficient vehicles and domestic fuel alternatives."

The Center for Automotive Research (CAR) in Ann Arbor, Mich., estimates that the new vehicles will save 49 million gallons of gasoline and reduce carbon emissions by 211,000 metric tons over the 10-year deployment period. That is equivalent to removing the emissions from more than 38,600 traditional passenger vehicles for a year.

Over the next five years, AT&T will replace about 8,000 gasoline-powered service vehicles with vehicles powered by domestically available CNG. CNG vehicles are expected to emit approximately 25 percent less greenhouse gas emissions than those traditionally powered by gasoline.

The vehicle chassis will be built domestically by a U.S. automotive manufacturer. AT&T will then work with domestic suppliers to convert the chassis to run on CNG. AT&T will also work with natural gas service providers to build up to 40 new CNG fueling stations across its operating region to provide the fueling infrastructure needed for the new vehicles. This investment will have a positive impact on job creation and preservation. CAR estimates that nearly 1,000 jobs will be created or saved each year for five years.

As it begins to retire gasoline-powered passenger vehicles in its fleet, AT&T has committed to replacing them with alternative-fuel models. AT&T expects to replace 7,100 passenger cars over the next 10 years. The alternative-fuel vehicles, which will be used by employees in a variety of diverse work functions across AT&T's operations, are expected to offer up to a 39 percent improvement in fuel economy and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 29 percent.

During the initial phase of the deployment, gasoline-powered passenger vehicles will be replaced with hybrid models. As technologies evolve, additional alternative-fuel vehicle types will be considered for inclusion.

"Economic times are tough, but tough times make it even more important to look for efficient solutions," said Stephenson. "This is part of a long-term strategy that will help us continue to cut operating costs, reduce emissions in the communities we serve and make our business even more sustainable."

In 2009, AT&T will deploy nearly 800 of the CNG and hybrid electric vehicles. A Green Technology insignia will make the vehicles easy to identify on the road.

The new CNG/passenger vehicle commitment follows AT&T's deployment of 105 alternative-fuel vehicles in more than 30 U.S. cities in June 2008. In addition, AT&T piloted four Ford Escape hybrids, which were deployed in late 2007 in California.

Through these successful pilot programs, AT&T has learned that a mix of solutions is right for its fleet and that multiple technologies can help reduce its operating costs over time, while effectively reducing its fuel consumption and impact on the environment.

In addition to taking steps to make its fleet more efficient, AT&T is committed to helping its customers make their commercial fleets more efficient via a portfolio of fleet management products and services. Using AT&T's nationwide mobile broadband network and GPS partner solutions, AT&T provides fleet managers with the ability to actively manage their vehicles, increase efficiency and reduce fuel and insurance costs. Nearly all of AT&T's own technician vehicles are equipped with similar GPS capabilities, which have provided increased visibility into business operations and allowed AT&T to uncover opportunities to improve efficiency and reduce costs.

To view this announcement live, please visit www.att.com/public-policy. For more information about AT&T's sustainability efforts, please visit www.att.com/sustainability.

*AT&T products and services are provided or offered by subsidiaries and affiliates of AT&T Inc. under the AT&T brand and not by AT&T Inc.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 6 Years Ago
      Oh, and did you notice they aren't even field trialing any hydrogen fuel cells? They have to run a business!
      • 6 Years Ago
      It's about economics, silly. Plain and simple this plan will save money or AT&T couldn't do it. They have to provide earnings for their shareholders. As these alternative and sustainable fuel technologies become economically viable their adoption becomes an economic imperative.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I missed what this has to do with the Death Star... :)
        • 6 Years Ago
        AT&T's round logo with a shaded inset is sometimes referred to as representing the Death Star from Star Wars.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Thanks, fnc. Like Cellien I was wondering what the relevance was. My best guess was a vague notion that it was held-over grudge for AT&T back when it was the government-mandated monopoly phone company for local and long distance alike. Now it makes sense.
      • 6 Years Ago
      CNG is a dead end and a distraction. NG is a gas at normal temperature and pressure and is thus highly inconvenient as a fuel. It has to be liquefied or compressed, energy intensively.

      Worse than that, what happens when you run low on your exotic alt-fuel and you're not near one of the tiny handful of stations that supports it? You're out of luck, that's what happens.

      There is ONE set of alternative fuels that is "backwards compatible" with gasoline: the alcohols. Fully "flex fuel" vehicles can run just as easily on any alcohol fuel as on gasoline, seamlessly. Same fuel tank, any mix or none at all. So if you're low on alcohol and can't find an alcohol station, you can fuel up on gasoline if you have to.

      That makes transitioning to alcohol MUCH more practical.

      What makes using CNG even more pointless is that natural gas can made made into an alcohol fuel: methanol. Methanol, like all the alcohols, is a liquid at room temperature and pressure and again is backward compatible with legacy gasoline fuel.

      Fleet vehicle users that want to really help us move off gasoline will use flex fuel vehicles with an alcohol fuel station at their storage/rendezvous area, opening that fuel station to the public to make some extra bucks.

      After all, flex fuel vehicles have been quietly selling in the millions for a decade; many people don't even know they're driving one. It would be nice if they could use them to burn clean burning alcohol fuel instead.
        • 6 Years Ago
        "Yes, natural gas can be converted into methanol, but there is energy losses involved. More efficient to burn it directly."

        Natural gas is very expensive to transport because it has to be liquefied or compressed. That's why it is considered an unwanted problem in many oil drilling locations and simply wasted, burned off.

        With a conversion to an alcohol economy, that would not occur; the NG would be captured, made into methanol, and shipped to waiting customers.
        • 6 Years Ago
        CNG vehicles do have a limited range, which is why most are used for fleet operations in a limited area. Drivers head back to headquarters to refill at the end of each shift.

        Natural gas is cleaner burning than gasoline, and it is the only fossil fuel for which we also have renewable sources. From a business standpoint, as a fuel CNG costs less per mile than gasoline, diesel, or biofuels.

        Yes, natural gas can be converted into methanol, but there is energy losses involved. More efficient to burn it directly.

        It is possible to have a dual fuel design that runs on CNG and gasoline, it should be possible to have a multi-fuel design compatable with CNG, gasoline, and alcohols as well.
      • 6 Years Ago

      Alcohol doesn't burn clean.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I should clarify my remarks about carbon neutrality.

        First, alcohol fuel as sold today is typically watered down a bit by 15% gasoline to enable cold weather startup. However, much of that can theoretically be replaced by butanol.

        Second, alcohol fuel, such as methanol or methanol-derived propanol, butanol, or DME diesel, is NOT carbon neutral if that methanol is made from coal or from natural gas that was drilled and obtained for its own sake. Some natural gas is "flared off" from oil drilling sites because it's not economical to transport it in gas form; since that would have been in the atmosphere anyway it's arguable that if it were captured, and made into methanol it's carbon neutral.

        But the main point I was making concerned ethanol (which is only made from plants) methanol that is made from biomass (ANY biomass without exception can be made into methanol), and other products derived from methanol, which is an important "base" or feedstock for a whole host of things.

        Third, even bio alcohol currently must use some petroleum to make it: fertilizer as well as energy and transportation fuel. The latter can be replaced with alcohol as well, but for now ten gallons of ethanol for example required about one gallon of petroleum to make. While still a 90% reduction, with the promise of still further reductions in future, that's still not perfect.
        • 6 Years Ago
        As a practical matter, yes it does. If you're going to be a zealot/fanatic, not even hydrogen fuel cells (ignoring their permanently crippling problems and excluding the fossil fuels that created them) don't either, because they emit water vapor (a GHG!!). But the alternative is not unattainable perfection, it's the alternative.

        Before global warming grabbed all the attention, environmentalists were deeply concerned about issues like smog and toxic spills. To this day smog kills 40,000 Americans a year according to EPA and the Exxon Valdez is still killing sea otters who eat contaminated shellfish.

        Alcohols when burned emit NO PARTICULATE MATTER, SMOKE, OR SOOT, which are what make smog. Wiping out the vehicular contribution to smog would do wonders for Los Angeles, not to mention Mexico City and Beijing.

        As for spills, toxicity is all about dosage, concentration, and rapidity of ingestion. And unlike petroleum, which when spilled remains concentrated and localized, alcohols dissolve readily in water and thus melt away into the vast planet-wide hydrosphere. Moreoever they are readily biodegradable and break down within days if not hours into harmless components. This makes lasting damage to the oceans, coastlines, and aquifers from alcohol fuel leaks and spills from tankers, fuel stations, etc. literally impossible.

        Getting back to air pollution, alcohols emit significantly less NOx, a source of acid rain and ozone smog. Even better, alcohol vapor washes out of the atmosphere when it rains, unlike petroleum fuel vapor. On top of that, alcohol vapor is less than a tenth as reactive to NOx as petroleum fuel vapor.

        Alcohols emit NO SULFUR, a major source of acid rain.

        It's also nice that alcohols are NON-CARCINOGENIC and NON-MUTAGENIC, unlike petroleum fuels.

        All these realities have been known for decades, which is why switching our cars to methanol was the great forgotten crusade of environmentalists. By the 1980s, large scale use of methanol-only cars by government was in use, such as the California Energy Commission. Then came the breakthrough in 1986: the flex fuel car, enabling any mix or none at all at any time of gasoline and/or methanol.

        Today's flex fuel tech is even more versatile, enabling gasoline or any alcohol fuel, including methanol, ethanol, propanol, butanol, etc.

        Alcohol fuels do emit CO2, but that CO2 is from plants, from the biosphere, part of the carbon cycle, and was recently in the atmosphere and would soon have returned there on its own. Thus not adding any new CO2.

        That's a big difference from petroleum, which has been sequestered underground basically forever in human terms. Drilling it up, refining it, and burning it into the air adds CO2 to the atmosphere that would NOT otherwise have been there and does add to greenhouse gases.

        This distinction is extremely important and too often ignored in the ignorant knee-jerk rush to lump all CO2 emissions together as the same when they are NOT.
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