LOS ANGELES, Calif.–Southern California Gas Co. announced today it plans to add about 1,000 new natural gas-powered trucks over the next five years as part of the utility’s “green” fleet replacement program.

The utility will purchase new natural gas-powered trucks from original equipment manufacturers as well as custom-built natural gas vehicles through a collaborative effort with local Southern California companies. Currently, SoCalGas has about 1,000 natural gas vehicles in its fleet.

This year, for example, the first of 50 custom-built 2011 Chevrolet Silverado trucks are in use in Southern California. Working with Torrance-based Landi Renzo USA, Royal Truck Bodies and Wondries Fleet Group, the trucks are equipped with Landi Renzo/Baytech compressed natural gas fuel systems that are approved by the California Air Resources Board.

“Natural gas vehicles are a real transportation solution today,” said Hal D. Snyder, vice president of customer solutions at SoCalGas. “Natural gas is the ideal fuel for transportation because it’s abundant, affordable, clean and produced domestically, and can serve all segments of the transportation industry.

“As we work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from our fleet, we encourage the automakers and after-market companies to produce natural gas vehicles, an effort that will result in significant air quality and cost benefits to customers and the region.”

Compressed natural gas currently costs about $2 per gasoline gallon equivalent, offering significant fuel costs savings. Another major benefit of compressed natural gas as a transportation fuel is reduced tailpipe emissions, according to the utility.

When compared to a gasoline- or diesel-powered vehicle, a natural gas vehicle realizes reduced carbon dioxide, or CO2, emissions; reduced nitrogen oxides, or NOx; and carbon monoxide, or CO, emissions, as well as particulate matter emissions.

Southern California currently has nearly 300 compressed natural gas fueling stations serving more than 17,000 natural gas-powered vehicles.

SoCalGas plans to expand over the next few years all of its 13 company-owned
public-access compressed natural gas stations.

SoCalGas is a member of a national collaborative, called “Drive Natural Gas Initiative,” made up of North American natural gas utilities and producers focused on advancing natural gas as a fuel for all sectors of transportation, including cars, trucks, buses, and marine and mining equipment.