Smithtown - Example Best Practice

Smithtown, New York, was the first town outside of California to require its private refuse fleet to be 100% CNG-fueled. The rising cost of contracted refuse services, primarily due to the increased diesel fuel costs, caused the town to evaluate its fleet fueling options. While the economics from more stable CNG prices was the primary driver to use CNG, Smithtown officials welcomed the environmental benefits that would be associated with new CNG trucks replacing the aging diesel refuse fleet. In 2006, the town developed a mechanism for the municipality purchasing process to support CNG use in refuse vehicles through private refuse carriers.

Smithtown first secured a contract with a fuel supplier to agree to put in a station if a CNG refuse service bid was awarded. The town negotiated a fixed price for fuel to eliminate the uncertainty for contractors. After researching CNG extensively, visiting organizations that were already using CNG in refuse applications, and testing its own bi-fuel pickup truck, Smithtown decided to make a full commitment to CNG. The town issued bid specifications requiring 100% CNG power for refuse contracts in 2006 and CNG vehicle service started in January 2007. Prior to the bid specifications being issued, prospective bidders expressed concerns and tried to get Smithtown to remove the CNG mandate. However, after reviewing the specifications that were issued and understanding the advantages the town gained through the fuel agreement they secured, a greater number of responses was received for the CNG mandated bid than for the previous refuse service bids, which did not have a CNG mandate. Refuse fleets in the area quickly realized the benefit that CNG provides through the reduced risk due to fuel price stability, and many started using CNG vehicles even when not mandated to do so.

Figure 25. Smithtown 2010 Kenworth T440 CNG refuse truck with pedestal mount fuel system
Figure 25. Smithtown 2010 Kenworth T440 CNG
refuse truck with pedestal mount fuel system

Today, Smithtown’s refuse service is carried out by 22 CNG trucks operated by private haulers and supplemented by two municipality owned CNG vehicles for special pick-ups. The dedicated CNG refuse vehicles operating in the town include the following:

  • Autocar Xpeditor : Cummins Westport Inc. (CWI) L Gas Plus engine, FAB Industries roof mounted fuel system
  • Crane Carrier LET2: CWI L Gas Plus engine, Dynetek Industries pedestal mounted fuel system
  • Kenworth T440: CWI ISL G engine, pedestal mounted fuel system
Figure 26. Hauppauge fast-fill compressed natural gas station
Figure 26. Hauppauge fast-fill compressed natural gas station

From 2007–2010, the fleet used a Clean Energy operated public access CNG fueling station at the New York State Office of General Services facility in Hauppauge, New York. In 2010, an additional fueling station in Smithtown was installed at the Smithtown Municipal Services Facility in Kings Park, New York through a bid award to support refuse vehicles in Smithtown and the Town of Huntington. The Town of Huntington wanted to replicate Smithtown’s CNG mandate but did not have a public fueling option or the appropriate property to put in a station. This unique collaboration between two municipalities created the demand for another CNG station that both could benefit from. This site, which is also owned, operated and maintained by Clean Energy, supported the expansion of CNG in Smithtown’s own fleet and the fuel throughput was sufficient to attract bids from three fuel providers. An extended 15-year fuel agreement was used to spread out the cost of the initial investment for the station construction and lower costs for the townships and the private carters contracting with the towns.

Smithtown’s Town Supervisor, Patrick R. Vecchio, estimated that over the seven-year life of the town’s refuse hauling contract, a CNG fleet would reduce costs, give the residents cleaner air, and eliminate the need for more than 1.5 million gallons of diesel fuel. The fleet reduced the town’s dependence on foreign petroleum products by the equivalent of nearly 200,000 gallons of gasoline and diesel fuel in 2010. The Town Supervisor estimates that CNG is providing Smithtown with savings of approximately $3 per home per year as compared to using diesel fuel. Employees who work on the CNG vehicles have been very pleased with their performance and the mechanics were very glad to have an opportunity to gain knowledge and experience with an alternative fuel. The contractor’s drivers are satisfied with the performance, the noise reduction is an added benefit for the operators, and the personnel who ride on the back of the trucks are glad not to be breathing diesel fumes all day.

Since the introduction of the Smithtown CNG refuse fleet, other CNG vehicles have been purchased by the Smithtown Municipality, including the following:

  • Freightliner M2 dump/plow trucks, some of the first acquired were powered by a John Deere CNG engine, more recent acquisitions have the CWI ISL G engine
  • International dump/plow trucks repowered with an Emissions Solutions Phoenix engine
  • Seven Honda Civic GX Sedans
  • Schwarze M6000 Street Sweeper

Smithtown’s “CNG Champion,” Russell Barnett, has supported the use of CNG for refuse services in numerous other municipalities throughout North America. With the adjacent townships of Brookhaven and Huntington awarding CNG refuse service contracts, just under 1 million people in this part of Long Island receive refuse collection exclusively by CNG vehicles. Based on his experience, Russell recommends that municipalities and fleets considering CNG should not extend beyond their core capabilities when implementing a CNG vehicle program. There is a competitive environment in the CNG industry and there are plenty of third-party organizations ready to compete for the opportunity to provide equipment and services.


Russell K. Barnett, Director of Smithtown Environment & Waterways

Last Updated: 07/01/2014