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U.S. Postal Service Fleet Alternative Fuel Vehicle Program Report for Fiscal Year 2013

Feb. 15, 2014

This report presents data on alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs) acquired by the United States Postal Service, alternative fuel use, and petroleum fuel savings in fiscal year 2013. The report complies with the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and takes into consideration Executive Order 13514 - Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance and Executive Order 13423 - Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy, and Transportation Management.

Fiscal Year 2013 Alternative Fuel Vehicles Summary

  • 554 vehicles purchased or leased
    • 308 light duty (8 EPAct covered)
    • 10 medium duty
    • 236 heavy duty
  • 325% AFV acquisition percentage
  • 293 light duty vehicles excluded due to being outside a Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) or
    used for law enforcement
  • Earned 23 EPAct credits for alternative fuel vehicles
  • Earned 3 EPAct credits for biodiesel usage

Energy legislation and Executive Orders

On Aug. 8, 2005, President Bush signed the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct). EPAct requires that in FY1999 and beyond 75% of all covered light-duty vehicles acquired for federal fleets must be AFVs. Certain types of emergency, law enforcement, and national defense vehicles are exempt from these requirements.

EPAct Section 701 requires federal fleets to use alternative fuels in dual-fuel vehicles acquired under the EPAct 1992 programs unless the Secretary of Energy determines an agency qualifies for a waiver. Criteria for a waiver include: alternative fuel is not reasonably available to the fleet or the cost of alternative fuel is unreasonably more expensive than conventional fuel.

In addition, EPAct allows one alternative fuel vehicle acquisition credit for every 450 gallons of neat biodiesel fuel consumed or 2,250 gallons of B20 (20% biodiesel and 80% regular diesel). Biodiesel credits may fulfill up to 50 percent of an agency’s EPAct requirements. The head of each Federal agency must also prepare and submit a report to Congress outlining the agency’s AFV acquisitions and future plans by Feb. 15 each year.

EO 13423 directs federal agencies operating a fleet of 20 or more vehicles within the United States

  • to reduce their annual petroleum consumption in non-exempt vehicles by 2% annually through the end of fiscal year 2015 relative to agency baseline for fiscal year 2005
  • increase the total fuel consumption that is non-petroleum based by 10 percent annually
  • use plug-in hybrid (PIH) vehicles when PIH vehicles are commercially available at a cost reasonably comparable, on the basis of life-cycle costs to non-PIH vehicles. This EO does not apply to the Postal Service; however, to achieve compliance with the legislative mandates of EPAct, we will take into consideration EO 13423 when developing the Postal Service’s compliance strategy.

In January 2008, the National Defense Authorization Act was signed into public law by President Bush. The Act amends the 2005 Energy Policy Act allowing federal agencies to acquire a broader array of alternative fuel vehicles which includes hybrid and very fuel efficient motor vehicles.

In October 2009, President Obama signed Executive Order 13514, Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance. This EO expanded upon EO 13423. Federal executive agencies are required to increase their energy efficiency, reduce fleet petroleum consumption, conserve water, reduce waste, support sustainable communities, and leverage their Federal purchasing power to promote environmentally responsible products and technologies. Agencies achieve the goal of reducing fossil fuels usage by using low greenhouse gas emitting vehicles; optimizing the number of vehicles in the agency fleet; and reducing petroleum consumption by 2 percent annually through FY2020 with a 2005 baseline. Agencies are also required to set GHG emission reduction targets; establish GHG emission inventories; and develop Strategic Sustainability Performance Plans. EO 13514 does not apply to the Postal service but we have adopted many of the policies and programs under postal authority.

In May 2011, President Obama issued a Presidential Memorandum that required all federal fleets to acquire only alternative fuel vehicles by the end of 2015. The memo included issues such as vehicle size, engine size, optional equipment, and optimum fleet size as well as leveraging purchasing dollars “to build manufacturing capacity for more alternative fueled vehicles.” It also requires the disclosure by the Agency on the Agency website of executive fleet vehicles that are larger than a midsize sedan or do not comply with alternative fueled vehicle requirements. The memo's requirements do not apply to the Postal Service, but it contains language asking the Department of Energy to continue to work with the Postal Service to test alternative fuel vehicles.

U.S. Postal Service approach

To achieve compliance with the legislative mandates of EPAct, the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) 2007 and take into consideration EO 13514 and 13423, the USPS strategy for vehicle acquisitions is as follows:

  • Mail hauling vehicle purchases will be AFVs, provided that mission-appropriate and cost-effective vehicles are made available by manufacturers. USPS will continue to centrally purchase all delivery vehicles.
  • Non-mail-hauling vehicles will be AFVs, provided that the AFV complies with operational requirements.
  • USPS will continue to use biodiesel in its diesel vehicles when it is cost comparable. In FY13, 311,066 gasoline gallons equivalent (GGE) of neat biodiesel were used, earning the Postal Service a total of 691 EPAct credits. However, biodiesel credits may fulfill up to 50% of an agency’s EPAct requirements. USPS had 8 covered acquisitions and 3 biodiesel credits counted toward the USPS AFV acquisition requirements.

USPS faces some challenges in reporting on its acquisitions. The Postal Service does not purchase delivery vehicles on a regular schedule. Since the majority of delivery vehicles are custom-designed, right-hand-drive vehicles, the Postal Service purchases vehicles in large quantities to attain a favorable unit price, as shown in Table 1. The uneven stream of delivery vehicle purchases can cause large fluctuations in the absolute numbers of acquisitions that form the basis for EPAct percentage calculation.

Among federal entities, USPS has a unique mission and does not receive appropriations for operating expenses. The Postal Service takes into consideration EO 13514 and 13423 when developing strategies to reduce fuel consumption and increase fleet operational efficiency. This is discussed in further detail under the Petroleum Savings section of this report.


Table 1. U.S. Postal Service Vehicle Acquisition Summary
Year Vehicle total *Vehicle type Fuel type
Other E85 CNG Electric Hybrid LPG
2005 3,044 LD 1,483 1,387        
MD 103          
HD 71          
2006 5,168 LD 608 2,688        
MD 168          
HD 1,704          
2007 5,913 LD 483 5,242 6      
MD 72          
HD 110          
2008 2,126 LD 249 1,825        
MD 26          
HD 26          
2009 3,226 LD 1,979 505     731  
MD 10          
HD 1          
2010 3,308 LD 2,620 521     167  
2011 120 LD 37 68     2  
MD 13          
2012 101 LD 37 62        
MD 1 1        
2013 3,044 LD 138 162     8  
MD 1 9        
HD 236          
*LD – Light Duty
MD – Medium Duty
HD – Heavy Duty

FY13 U.S. Postal Service fleet compliance

The Postal Service leases and purchases both covered and non-covered light duty vehicles. In FY13 308 light duty vehicles were acquired; 293 vehicles were exempted because they are operated primarily outside of a covered MSA or are law enforcement vehicles. A total of 7 vehicles were exempted as located outside the domestic fleet.100% of the remaining 8 covered vehicles were AFVs under EPAct or the NDAA. The Postal Service also gained 3 credits for biodiesel fuel use and credit for 14 light-duty AFV, and 9 medium-duty AFV. The combination of AFV acquisitions and biodiesel use earned the Postal Service a grand total of 26 AFV credits in FY13. As a result, the Postal Service once again exceeded the mandatory 75% EPAct requirement with a total EPAct percentage of 325%, as shown in Table 2.


Table 2. U.S. Postal Service’s Acquisition of AFVs in FY13

EPAct-covered acquisitions
 

AFV acquisition requirement for
FY13

Total AFV acquisitions (including credits)
 

EPAct percentage
 

8

 

8

 

26

 

325%

 


This is the sixteenth consecutive year that the Postal Service has met or exceeded the minimum EPAct AFV acquisition requirement

FY13 U.S. Postal Service fleet fuel use

Table 3 presents FY13 fuel consumption data by fuel type for the Postal Service’s vehicle fleet. It includes fuel consumption for the 208,807 Postal Service vehicles.

Table 3. U.S. Postal Service Fuel Use in FY13
Postal Service fleet fuel use in GGE

 

 

From biodiesel (B100)

311,066

From CNG

63,670

From E-85

417,920

From electric

2,973

From propane

18,084

Total alternative fuel use

813,713

From gasoline

126,053,965

From diesel

30,636,523

Total non-alternative fuel use

156,690,488

Total vehicle fuel use

157,504,201


Petroleum savings

The Postal Service is unique among federal agencies covered by EPAct. The mandate for providing universal delivery service requires that mail distribution and delivery network must constantly adapt to meet the needs of millions of new households and businesses across the country. As a business entity that operates within a highly competitive environment, USPS must also remain acutely sensitive to its customers' needs for affordable service.

The Postal Service's mandate to serve the daily mail delivery needs of growing communities across the country is met largely through its delivery vehicle fleet. The vast majority of fuel used for daily mail delivery is purchased from local merchants using the Voyager Fleet Credit Card. Letter carriers refuel their vehicles at locations along their routes when possible to minimize work hours and added fuel consumption associated with traveling to more distant fueling points.

The Postal Service continues to increase the efficiency of the delivery network by regularly reviewing transportation networks and consolidating or eliminating trips where appropriate. These transportation efficiency actions reduce fuel consumption, consistent with federal goals. In addition, mail automation and management initiatives have reduced the absolute number of delivery routes, avoided the creation of routes to support new delivery growth, and increased the average number of deliveries served by individual carriers.

Another factor that influences USPS fuel statistics is the agency's contractual obligation with the National Rural Letter Carrier’s Association to provide right-hand drive postal vehicles to selected rural delivery routes. Formerly, these rural letter carriers received an allowance to cover the cost of fueling their own private vehicle for mail delivery purposes. The fuel used by these postal vehicles appears as increased consumption for FAST reporting purposes.

The nature of postal operations, including the unavoidable “stop-and-go” duty cycle of the routes, makes it difficult to obtain significant fuel savings with conventional vehicles. However new technologies such as hybrid electric and dedicated electric vehicles have emerged which may provide improved gas mileage,
especially in stop-and-go situations. The Postal Service continues to partner with manufacturers to test this technology.

Alternative fuel use

The consumption of 417,920 GGE of E85 led alternative fuel usage in FY13. The fleet also consumed:

  • 311,066 GGE Neat biodiesel
  • 63,670 GGE CNG
  • 18,084 GGE LPG
  • 2,973 GGE Electricity

In total, the fleet consumed 813,713 GGEs of alternative fuel.

The Postal Service has made a concerted effort to increase alternative fuel usage by educating employees on EPAct without compromising our mission. To help achieve the goals of reducing petroleum use by 20% and increasing alternative fuel usage by 10%, the Postal Service has added an Energy Reduction Indicator to the National Performance Assessment, a Postal Service system that collects information to monitor performance across the nation. This information is used during annual employee reviews.

The potential to utilize E-85 and other alternative fuels is limited by their commercial availability. Like the general public, the Postal Service relies on local commercial infrastructure to supply convenient and competitively-priced fuel for its delivery fleet. If alternative fuel locations are not conveniently located and
competitively priced, the Postal Service cannot access and utilize them in its delivery fleet. While the Postal Service provides information on AFV deployment to interested suppliers and industry advocates to assist in development of fuel infrastructure, the Postal Service fleet depends on public alternative fuel infrastructure to purchase alternative fuels using fleet cards. These card systems are excellent at recording the financial aspects of the fuel transactions but fall short of accurately recording the quantity and type of fuel purchased. This impacts the Postal Service's ability to report all alternative fuel usage accurately.

Unlike other agencies, the Postal Service does not receive Congressional appropriations for its fuel costs. Instead, our fuel costs are funded by sales of postage and services, and we rely on local commercial infrastructure to supply convenient and competitively-priced fuel. As a self-funded entity operating within a highly competitive business environment, the price of alternative fuel on a GGE basis is particularly significant to the Postal Service. Controlled testing of our flexible fuel delivery vehicles has documented a 27% reduction in fuel efficiency when operated on E-85 fuel due to its reduced energy content relative to gasoline. From the standpoint of our business and ratepayer concerns, alternative fuel must be both very conveniently located in order to avoid undue carrier work-hour expense associated with refueling, and competitively priced on a GGE basis.

Alternative fuel vehicle activities

Below is a summary of some of the current and future activities relating to Postal Service Alternative Fuel Vehicles:

  • In December 2009, five companies were awarded contracts to convert a LLV to an eLLV (battery electric vehicle). We will continue testing eLLVs within our network in the DC metropolitan area.
  • The Postal Service received a Chevrolet Equinox hydrogen fuel cell vehicle and it began testing in Hawaii in late spring 2012. The vehicle will be used for 2 years and it will be rotated on different routes to collect operational data on different route types.
  • The Postal Service recently completed an analysis of the use of CNG based on changes in the price of natural gas in the United States. While the review identified that a nation-wide rollout was not cost effective at this time, USPS continues to identify ways to take advantage of favorable local and regional infrastructure for natural gas powered vehicles.
  • Contracts were awarded to convert one Grumman light duty delivery vehicle to a clean diesel drive train and one Grumman light duty delivery vehicle to a fuel efficient gasoline drive train. The Postal Service took delivery of the re-powered gasoline vehicle prototype March 2012 and the re-powered diesel vehicle prototype by the end of September 2012. The vehicles have been deployed to delivery units in the Washington, DC area for a one-year field evaluation. Vehicle performance was unacceptable. Testing ended July 11, 2013.
  • In December 2011, the Postal Service began testing 10 Navistar eStar 2-ton electric step vans. The program is part of the America Recovery and Reinvestment Act funded through the Department of Energy. The vehicles are being tested in 3 locations, Los Angeles, CA (5 vehicles), Manhattan, NY (3 vehicles), and Fairfax, VA (2 vehicles). Navistar discontinued supporting the vehicles, the vehicles were returned at the end of the bailment period, July 2013.
  • The Postal Service completed a one–year evaluation of the neighborhood electric vehicle (NEV) from e-Ride at Alexandria, VA PO in 2012. Mileage, electric consumption, maintenance and carrier’s comments were collected. The e-Ride vehicle demonstration test ended. Initial economic analysis is positive. The vehicle has ergonomics issues that need to be corrected. The e-Ride vehicle is restricted by the Federal Department of Transportation (DOT) to have a maximum speed of 25 mph, therefore, it cannot be used for most USPS delivery routes.
  • The Postal Service partnered with New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) and New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to purchase alternative powered vehicles to be utilized in the State of New York or New York City area.

Summary

The U.S. Postal Service is a self-supporting agency that funds operations from the revenue generated by the sales of products and services, not taxpayer subsidies received through the Congressional appropriations process. Currently, the USPS financial condition poses a significant barrier to fund a major
vehicle acquisition, and for that reason and also to gain financial stability, USPS is taking aggressive steps to increase efficiencies in our network.

The Postal Service exceeded minimum EPAct alternative fuel vehicle acquisition requirements in FY13 for the sixteenth consecutive year. This achievement is due to the continued commitment of vehicle managers, drivers, and letter carriers throughout the Postal Service.

Appendix A

 

2013 AFV Report

1. Actual light-duty vehicle acquisitions and exemptions
  Acquisitions                           
Leased Purchased Total
Total light-duty vehicle acquisitions 41 267 308  
Fleet exemptions: Fleet size 0 0 0  
Fleet exemptions: Foreign 1 6 7  
Fleet exemptions: Geographic 0 0 0  
Fleet exemptions: Non-MSA operation 0 0 0  
Vehicle exemptions: LE vehicle 0 261 261  
Vehicle exemptions: Non-covered vehicle 0 0 0  
Vehicle exemptions: Non-MSA operation 32 0 32  
Total EPAct-covered vehicles 8 0 8  
 
2. Actual alternative fuel vehicle acquisition detail
Vehicle Type Fuel LE Acquisitions EPAct Credits
Leased Purchased Total
Light duty vehicles
Sedan/St Wgn large E85 FF Yes 0 6 6 0
Sedan/St Wgn midsize E85 FF Yes 0 24 24 0
Sedan/St Wgn midsize GAS HY2 Yes 0 8 8 0
Sedan/St Wgn subcompact E85 FF No 4 0 4 4
LD Minivan 4x2 (passenger) E85 FF No 5 0 5 5
LD Minivan 4x2 (passenger) E85 FF Yes 0 25 25 0
LD Pickup 4x2 E85 FF Yes 0 9 9 0
LD SUV 4x2 E85 FF Yes 0 74 74 0
LD Van 4x2 (Cargo) E85 FF Yes 0 5 5 0
LD Pickup 4x4 E85 FF No 3 0 3 3
LD SUV 4x4 E85 FF No 2 0 2 2
LD SUV 4x4 E85 FF Yes 0 2 2 0
Medium duty vehicles
MD other E85 FF No 2 0 2 2
MD pickup E85 FF No 0 0 1 1
MD van (Cargo) E85 FF No 6 0 6 6
Totals: 23 153 176 23
 
3. Actual EPAct acquisitions credit summary
Base AFV acquisition credits: 23
Zero emission vehicle (ZEV) credits: 0
Dedicated light duty AFV credits: 0
Dedicated medium duty AFV credits: 0
Dedicated heavy duty AFV credits: 0
Biodiesel fuel usage credits:4 3
Total EPAct credits: 26
Overall EPAct compliance percentage: 325%
 

Notes:

  • EPAct credits granted for acquisition of law enforcement and emergency/emergency response vehicles. DOE has determined that credits will not be granted for acquisition of these vehicles beginning with FY10 and in all years after FY10.
  • For years prior to 2009, EPAct acquisition credits were not granted for vehicles with hybrid fuel configurations (e.g., gas-electric hybrid configurations). Beginning with 2009 and continuing forward for all subsequent years, vehicles with these fuel configurations are considered alternative fueled vehicles and corresponding credits are granted and shown, if appropriate, in the above tables.
  • EPAct allows credits toward compliance to be granted for consumption of biodiesel fuel; one credit toward compliance is granted for each 450 gallons of biodiesel consumed, with a maximum of 50% of an organization's credits toward compliance coming from biodiesel consumption.