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Could USPS Fleet Cut Fuel Use with ESPCs?

USPS vehicle fuel useA bill introduced by Reps. Jared Huffman (D-CA) and Gerry Connolly (D-VA), would authorize the US Postal Service to use energy savings performance contracts to improve the efficiency of its fleet.

The bill, HR 3963, is called the Federal Leadership in Energy Efficient Transportation (FLEET) Act, The Hill reports.

ESPCs allow companies, governments and other organizations to finance projects – usually infrastructure improvements – based on the expected energy savings. Huffman says that, according to one study, the use of ESPCs could help USPS save about 150 million gallons of gas over the next decade, or $400 million.

USPS owns the world’s largest civilian fleet, with 192,000 cars and trucks that drive 4.3 million miles a day, Huffman says – but about 75 percent of those vehicles average just 10 miles per gallon.

It has a target to reduce postal vehicle petroleum fuel use 20 percent by FY15, from FY05 – but as of FY12, fuel use was up 4.6 percent against the baseline, according to USPS’s most recent sustainability report. The company did find a slight decrease from FY11 to FY12).

The organization blames the long-term increase in fuel use not on inefficiency, however, but mostly on “continued growth in new city and rural delivery points.”

“We have established fuel-use targets for postal-owned vehicles and contract transportation fleet partners, and track their use,” USPS says. “The challenge in reducing fuel use is that even as mail piece volumes continue to decline, the total number of delivery points (locations where mail must be delivered) is increasing.”

USPS says it uses efficiency techniques such as optimized routing to deal with the additional service points. In FY12 it added 690,000 new city and rural delivery points while reducing total delivery routes by 1,161.

In November a bipartisan group of 117 House Members and 22 Senators urged President Obama to sign a five-year extension of his 2011 initiative that kickstarted the use of performance contracting in federal buildings.

Takeaway: Two Congressmen have introduced a bill that would authorize USPS to improve its fleet efficiency using energy savings performance contracts.

Tamar Wilner is Senior Editor at Environmental Leader PRO.

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