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  • Writer's pictureRon Kotrba

Approved Oil supplies New York City with renewable diesel to transition entire heavy-duty fleet

New York City is set to become the first East Coast city to transition its entire heavy-duty fleet to renewable diesel.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Department of Citywide Administrative Services Commissioner Dawn M. Pinnock outlined a plan Nov. 29 that will make New York City the first city on the East Coast to transition all heavy-duty vehicles in the city’s fleet from fossil to 100 percent renewable fuel.

The city’s fleet currently includes more than 12,600 on- and off-road trucks and specialized equipment that operate on diesel fuel.

By the end of fiscal-year 2024, they will all operate on a blend of 95 percent renewable diesel and 5 percent biodiesel, according to Anessa Hodgson, the chief public information officer for NYC DCAS.

“The mix improves vehicle operation and lubricity,” Hodgson told Biobased Diesel Daily®.

Up to 16 million gallons of renewable diesel will be supplied to the city by Approved Oil Co. every year.

Daniel Falcone, the wholesale-division sales manager at Approved Oil, has a long history with biofuel use in New York City.

He was instrumental in the passage of New York City’s first Bioheat legislation in the 2000s.

“Approved Oil is a Brooklyn-born company and I’m proud we won the bid,” Falcone tells Biobased Diesel Daily® about winning New York City’s first long-term contract for renewable diesel.

Approved Oil got its start in the 1930s as a fuel retailer until 2010, when the decision was made to get into the wholesale business as well, according to Chris Fazio, executive vice president of Approved Oil.

Today, Approved Oil operates wholesale terminals in the Bronx, New York; three in New Jersey; and another in Baltimore, Maryland.

“We’re very excited to be awarded such a prestigious multiyear contract,” Fazio told Biobased Diesel Daily®. “This reshapes Approved Oil. We’ve been known for a long time as a full-service heating-oil company. Now, to be a part of the largest—the first—city-fleet transition to renewable diesel on the East Coast, it’s a monumental event. We’re proud to partner with the city in helping meet its green initiatives, ushering in a new era of clean energy. It’s a tremendous opportunity.”

Vincent Theurer Jr., marketing director for Approved Oil, said the renewable diesel his company is supplying to New York City is produced domestically.

The renewable diesel is manufactured in Louisiana by Diamond Green Diesel, a joint venture between Valero Energy Corp. and Darling Ingredients Inc., Fazio confirmed.

Falcone added that Approved Oil has been working with the city for two years to win the contract.

“We did our due diligence to hit the carbon-intensity reduction the city needs to hit, required by its own laws,” he said. “We are one of the largest fuel distributors in New York City and we have the ability to meet the demand. I’m proud to be a part of it.”

Much of Falcone’s previous work with the city and biofuel was on the legislative side, working with city-council members like Jim Gennaro on the citywide Bioheat mandate over the years.

“But this bid was a different animal,” he said. “It took a lot of back-office work. It’s a big deal—for the city, and for our company.”

Gennaro added, “This groundbreaking plan to transition the entire fleet of over 12,500 heavy-duty vehicles from fossil to renewable fuel marks a historic leap toward sustainability. As the first city on the East Coast to undertake such a bold initiative, New York City is not only leading by example, but setting a powerful precedent for urban centers globally.”

Donnell Rehagen, CEO of Clean Fuels Alliance America, said, “Building upon the success of biodiesel adoption, New York City has already demonstrated a commitment to reducing emissions. Now, adding renewable diesel, the city is not only prioritizing environmental responsibility, but also showcasing the transformative power of innovative fuel choices in creating a better, cleaner landscape.”

The transition began in September with 2.5 million gallons of renewable diesel already used across heavy-duty vehicles, including garbage trucks and ambulances.

“In 2015, New York City completed its first test of biofuels at NYC Parks,” said Keith Kerman, DCAS deputy commissioner for fleet management and chief fleet officer. “Biofuels have now been used for over a decade in every municipal fleet unit and building. Today, we take the biggest step forward yet—replacing all fossil diesel for city trucks and off-road equipment with renewable diesel. We will clean our truck emissions now using biofuels and keep working towards an even more exciting transition to electric and zero-emission vehicles in the years ahead.”

Jessica Tisch, the city’s sanitation commissioner, said whether picking up trash or plowing snow, New Yorkers expect the thousands of heavy-duty trucks the sanitation department operates to get the job done.

“The transition to renewable diesel means our collection trucks will be there when needed, with less than half the damage to the air we breathe,” Tisch said.

Rohit Aggarwala, New York City’s chief climate officer and commissioner of the city’s environmental protection department (DEP), added that, “At DEP, all of our roughly 750 trucks transitioned to renewable diesel earlier this fall, and our fleet of marine vehicles has been running on biodiesel for several years.”

Mayor Adams said, “New York City continues to lead the way for the rest of the country by making our vehicles cleaner, greener and safer. We will continue to serve as a model for cities across the globe in combating climate change while still delivering vital government services to New Yorkers every day.”

After the full rollout of 16 million gallons per year of renewable diesel, the city will cut 128 billion grams of carbon-dioxide pollution each year.

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