AT&T said Wednesday that over the next decade it will replace 15,000 vehicles, or about 20% of its fleet, with cars and trucks powered by compressed natural gas, electricity and other alternative fuels.
“AT&T is making the largest-ever commitment by any U.S. company to purchase alternative fuel vehicles,” AT&T chief executive Randall Stephenson said Wednesday morning in a speech in Washington.
He said the $565 million initiative will cut AT&T(T)’s gasoline bill by an estimated 49 million gallons and reduce carbon emissions by 211 million metric tons over ten years as its alt fuel fleet grows from about 100 vehicles now on the road. “That’s good for the environment and it will reduce our reliance on foreign oil – my new neighbor Boone Pickens and I have talked a lot about that,” Stephenson said.
Pickens, the Texas oil wildcatter-turned-wind magnate, advocates using natural gas as fuel for cars and trucks rather than to make electricity, which would be supplied by massive wind farms.
“Smart American companies can be green and profitable and they don’t have to trade one for the other,” Pickens said in a statement Wednesday.
The communications giant will spend $350 million to buy 8,000 compressed natural gas, or CNG, vehicles and $215 million on electric hybrid cars made in the United States. That could be a small boost for battered automakers General Motors (GM) and Ford (F). (Of course, it could also be good news for those other leading “domestic” alt fuel manufacturers, Honda (HMC) and Toyota (TM).)
A U.S. car maker will build the chassis for the CNG vehicles and AT&T will have them converted to run on compressed natural gas. The company will also build a network CNG fueling stations. All told, AT&T said 5,000 jobs will be created or saved through the program in the first five years. About 7,100 AT&T passenger cars wi
ll be retired in favor of electric hybrids and other alt fuel vehicles.