Company aims for more sustainable future with decarbonization goals
HAMPTON, N.H., March 29, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Unitil Corporation (NYSE: UTL) (unitil.com), a provider of natural gas and electricity delivery service to customers in New England, is continuing its transition to a sustainable fleet by adding more hybrid electric vehicles and launching a program to reduce vehicle idling time as the Company aims to slash its operations-related carbon emissions.
Following the introduction of its first hybrid bucket truck in early 2022 at its electric operations facility in Exeter, New Hampshire, the Company now has nine hybrid pickup trucks operating in New Hampshire and four in Maine. Another five are planned in New Hampshire and six in Maine by the end of the year. In addition, the Company operates one hybrid bucket truck and five hybrid pickup trucks in Massachusetts; six more hybrid pickup trucks and a second hybrid bucket truck are on order for 2023.
“We remain committed to creating a cleaner and more sustainable future and have developed a strategic plan to meet our goals. Part of that plan includes making the switch to a greener vehicle fleet and other similar initiatives that we believe will have long-term environmental benefits,” Unitil Media Relations Manager Alec O’Meara said.
The addition of hybrid trucks is one step Unitil is taking to meet its goal of reducing direct operational carbon emissions by 50% by the year 2030, and reaching net-zero emissions by 2050. A single hybrid bucket truck, which uses a rechargeable battery to power its boom, is expected to eliminate an estimated 20 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year, which is equivalent to 4.3 gasoline passenger vehicles a year or the annual energy use of 2.5 households.
The move toward creating a more sustainable fleet began in 2020 when Unitil conducted a comprehensive review of its fleet’s carbon footprint, and gained a better understanding of vehicle uses. Based on that review, the Company explored emission reduction technologies that could best balance its emission goals with operational needs, customer service, and emergency response capabilities.
To help the Company reach its 50% carbon emissions reduction goal, its future fleet will include a mixture of hybrid, electric, and possible alternative fuel and/or technologies for medium and heavy-duty vehicles without a viable electric vehicle alternative.
The Company also recently launched an idle mitigation program in New Hampshire using technology that eliminates unnecessary idling by automatically shutting down the engine when the vehicle is in park, while continuing to provide all required power. The technology is expected to reduce the annual idle time by approximately 92% and lead to annual fuel savings for the five fleet vehicles chosen for the program.
“Idling is a necessary reality in the utility industry. Oftentimes the engine stays on and the vehicle idles because workers need to operate electronics, power equipment and emergency lighting, and run heat and air conditioning. Although the pilot program began just a few months ago, the early results have been favorable,” O’Meara said.
Those results have shown that decreased idling on a medium-duty pickup truck in the idle mitigation program has lowered emissions by approximately 40% annually for that vehicle, or a reduction of approximately six metric tons of carbon dioxide.
If data continues to show favorable carbon reduction results, the Company plans to have five additional vehicles equipped with idling mitigation technology in New Hampshire and two additional vehicles in Maine later this year. To further reduce emissions, the Company also plans to add two compressed natural gas/gasoline bi-fuel duty pickup trucks to its fleet in the Concord, New Hampshire, region this year as well.
More information on Unitil’s sustainability efforts can be found in the 2022 Corporate Sustainability & Responsibility Report.
About Unitil Corporation
Unitil Corporation provides energy for life by safely and reliably delivering natural gas and electricity in New England. We are committed to the communities we serve and to developing people, business practices, and technologies that lead to the delivery of dependable, more efficient energy. Unitil Corporation is a public utility holding company with operations in Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Together, our operating utilities serve approximately 108,100 electric customers and 87,500 natural gas customers. For more information about our people, technologies, and community involvement please visit unitil.com.
For more information please contact:
Todd Diggins – Investor Relations
Alec O’Meara – Media Relations