Supervalu Invests in Natural Gas
Supervalu Inc. has rolled out a new fleet of 35 Class 8 Volvo trucks that operate on compressed natural gas (CNG), operating out of its Mechanicsville, Va., distribution center that serves 500 grocery stores in Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia, Washington, D.C. and North Carolina.
To power the new trucks, the largest private fleet of its kind in the Mid-Atlantic region, Trillium CNGTM will operate a fast-fill CNG station that it constructed at the distribution center. The conversion to natural gas will reduce the fleet’s annual oil consumption by more than 1 million gallons and result in 1,300 fewer tons of greenhouse gas emissions, the company reported. In addition to the environmental benefits, the new CNG fleet and fast-fill station is expected to reduce Supervalu’s operating costs, given the lower cost of compressed natural gas.
The new trucks and fast-fill station were unveiled at a Dec. 6 ceremony attended by Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade Jim Cheng, as well as several local and company officials.
Commitment to Sustainability
“Our decision to transition to natural-gas-powered trucks is in keeping with Supervalu’s long-standing commitment to do business in a sustainable manner,” said Mike Lech, VP of logistics for Supervalu’s Eastern Region. “This project is not only good for the environment, but also for the bottom line, as each natural-gas-powered truck will cut greenhouse gas emissions and reduce fuel usage for our fleet. We’re proud of this effort and the many great partners who helped make it a reality.”
Utilizing Trillium’s high-performance fast-fill hydraulic intensifier, the new station can fuel trucks at a rate of 8 to 10 gallons per minute.
The fill station is the first of two Trillium stations planned in the Richmond, Va., area. The second is under construction at GRTC Transit System, the public transit agency jointly owned by the city of Richmond and Chesterfield County, and is expected to be operational in three to four months. By the end of the second quarter 2014, Trillium CNG will be operating 81 CNG stations nationwide, with 54 of them having public access.
Supervalu's fill station "is a turnkey fueling solution that allows Supervalu to focus on converting its fleet while Trillium focuses on the necessary fueling infrastructure to help Supervalu meet its transportation goals,” said Mary Boettcher, president, Trillium CNG. In addition to serving hundreds of independently owned grocery stores, the Mechanicsville distribution center supplies Supervalu’s Farm Fresh Food & Pharmacy banner, which operates 42 stores primarily in Virginia, as well as more than 50 Shoppers Food & Pharmacy stores in Northern Virginia, Washington, D.C. and Baltimore.
Supervalu operates 20 distribution centers across the United States and has more than 400 trucks in its national company-owned fleet, excluding its Save-A-Lot network that operates separately. With 105 tractors in its fleet, the Mechanicsville distribution center aims to convert 65 percent of them to natural gas by 2015.
Minneapolis-based Supervalu Inc. operates a network of 3,420 stores composed of 1,900 independent stores serviced primarily by the company’s food distribution business; 1,334 Save-A-Lot stores, of which 957 are operated by licensee owners; and 191 traditional retail grocery stores.