LOS ANGELES -- Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) announced it plans to add about 1,000 new natural gas-powered trucks to its fleet over the next five years. The trucks are 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. SoCalGas is working with Torrance, Calif.-based Landi Renzo USA, Royal Truck Bodies and Wondries Fleet Group. The trucks are equipped with Landi Renzo/Baytech compressed natural gas (CNG) fuel systems 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.”

Southern California currently has nearly 300 CNG fueling stations, serving more than 17,000 natural gas-powered vehicles. Over the next few years, SoCalGas plans to expand all of its 13 company-owned, public-access CNG stations. 

At its Riverside refueling station, SoCalGas is field testing a new modular CNG "fueling station in a box" technology that takes 20 percent less space and can be installed faster than traditional facilities with separate components installed on the site. This technology has the potential to reduce capital cost and construction time, the company said.