Promoting Green Power: Verizon Rolls Out Hybrid-Powered Van Pilot Project

HYATTSVILLE, Md. - In a precedent-setting move, Verizon will soon begin a pilot project using 13 specially designed service vans with environmentally friendly hybrid-engine systems.  Because no domestic motor vehicle manufacturer currently makes hybrid vehicles in the "van" category, Verizon worked closely with a company that specializes in hybrid-power systems, and it retrofitted the new vehicles to Verizon's specifications.

The vans, which have FiOS and green-energy markings on them, will serve some of Verizon's FiOS Internet and TV customers here and in Texas.  They were unveiled at a news conference Tuesday (March 6) at the company's Hyattsville work center, and they are being put into service over the next several weeks.

The vans' gasoline- and electricity-powered engines could improve gas mileage by up to 50 percent over traditional internal-combustion engines, and have the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 70 percent to 90 percent.

[Note: High-resolution, downloadable photos of the vans are available at http://verizon.mediaseed.tv]

Verizon is the first major company to retrofit service vehicles in the "van" class with hybrid-power technology.  The retrofitting for the trial was done by hybrid-electric pioneer Enova Systems Inc., located in Torrance, Calif.

"These retrofitted FiOS vans will allow us to evaluate hybrid technology," said Kathryn Brown, senior vice president of public policy development and corporate responsibility for Verizon. "More importantly, as an operator of one of the largest private motor vehicle fleets in the U.S., we hope to send a message to automotive manufacturers that they should be manufacturing hybrid vehicles in all classes.  There is a market here, especially for companies like Verizon that seek to minimize the environmental impact of their operations."

Verizon's hybrid vans will be used by technicians who install and maintain the company's digital all-fiber-optic FiOS services: FiOS Internet Service, which delivers download speeds of up to 50 megabits per second; and FiOS TV, which offers consumers tremendous capacity, extraordinary picture quality and theater-quality sound.

The new vans use both a traditional gasoline-powered internal-combustion engine and a battery-powered electric motor.  An onboard computer coordinates the use of either the internal-combustion engine or the electric motor, or both, depending on the driving conditions.  When the internal-combustion engine is running, it charges the batteries for the electric motor.  The net result is the vehicle uses less fuel and produces fewer harmful emissions such as carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and hydrocarbon gas.

Chris Creager, general manager – Potomac region for Verizon, said, "These leading-edge hybrid vans complement our efforts to harness the most advanced technologies available for our customers, as we're doing with broadband and video services on our all-fiber-optic network. Verizon is a responsible company, and this van trial demonstrates that we are willing to promote innovative solutions to meet our country's energy and environmental challenges."

John Mizroch, principal deputy assistant secretary of the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy, said, "We congratulate Verizon for its efforts to reduce energy use by demonstrating these hybrid vans in their fleet operations.  This sends a message to all concerned that successful business practices and energy efficiency are compatible and make good business sense."

Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler said, "It is great to see companies such as Verizon place Maryland at the forefront of technological advances that are environmentally friendly and help enrich people's lives.  Through advances such as fiber optics into the home to hybrid-powered, cleaner-energy vehicles, Verizon is taking a leadership role and we're proud to see it happen right here."

Verizon is building the nation's largest digital all-fiber-optic network directly to customers, with more than 6 million homes passed at the end of 2006.  Only Verizon's FiOS network has earned the certification of the independent Fiber to the Home Council for providing fiber all the way to customers' homes and businesses, ensuring that they are able to realize the full suite of next-generation services that only fiber can deliver.

Improving the Environment through Innovation

Verizon is a leader in using technology to reduce energy costs, improve efficiency and minimize environmental impacts.  For the past three years, the company has reduced emissions of carbon dioxide by hundreds of thousands of metric tons.  Last year, Verizon developed a plan to further reduce electricity consumption by shutting down obsolete network equipment, upgrading the energy efficiency of buildings and selling or closing unneeded facilities.

"Today's announcement is just one example of how we are continually looking for ways to minimize our impact on the environment," Brown said. 

Verizon has made key strides in alternative electricity generation technologies and will continue to find new ways to protect the environment.  Examples include:

Micro turbine engines:  In two California central offices, Verizon is using micro turbines fired by natural gas to generate electricity.  The micro turbines, which were installed in the first quarter of 2006, provide approximately 50 percent of the electricity required in each central office. Combined, the systems will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 6.6 thousand metric tons per year, or the equivalent of taking 1,400 passenger cars off the road for one year.

Hypalon roofs:  Verizon is reducing energy usage through Hypalon membrane roofing, which uses a highly reflective surface and increased insulation to improve energy efficiency.  Hypalon roofs are EPA Energy Star approved and, when combined with increased insulation, reduce overall building heating and cooling requirements, compared with buildings with standard roofing materials.  Verizon has installed more than 600 Hypalon roofs to date in company buildings in California, Arizona, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and Texas, and is studying the value of expanding the program throughout the company's service territory.

Fuel cells:   In 2005, Verizon launched the first major trial of this environmentally friendly technology at its switching center and office building in Garden City, N.Y.  The project – the largest of its kind in the country – consists of seven fuel cells manufactured by UTC Power, each of which is capable of generating 200 kilowatts of electrical power per hour – enough to supply the energy needs of about 400 single-family households. 

By using electricity generated by the fuel cells as the primary power source at the Garden City facility and reclaiming the heat and water the cells produce to help heat and cool the building, Verizon will annually eliminate approximately 5,440 metric tons of carbon dioxide that otherwise would have been emitted into the atmosphere, or the equivalent of 1,200 passenger cars not driven during one year.  In addition, during the first year of operation, Verizon saved more than $600,000 by not having to obtain power from the commercial power grid.

Verizon's Garden City project is unique because the existing commercial power grid, the new fuel cells and existing Verizon backup power generators work together to meet any set of operational needs required at the building.  This includes electrical backup for commercial power outages, natural disasters and periods of peak commercial power demand.

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), headquartered in New York, is a leader in delivering broadband and other wireline and wireless communication innovations to mass market, business, government and wholesale customers.  Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, serving more than 59 million customers nationwide.  Verizon's Wireline operations include Verizon Business, which operates one of the most expansive wholly owned global IP networks, and Verizon Telecom, which is deploying the nation's most advanced fiber-optic network to deliver the benefits of converged communications, information and entertainment services to customers.  A Dow 30 company, Verizon has a diverse workforce of approximately 242,000 and last year generated consolidated operating revenues of more than $88 billion.  For more information, visit  www.verizon.com.