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Tops Markets LLC has formed a partnership with Ryder to replace the grocer's existing 55 tractors with vehicles compatible with compressed natural gas (CNG). Additionally, Tops has selected American Natural Gas (ANG) as its CNG provider after an extensive RFP process.
Pending town approval, under the agreement, Saratoga Springs, N.Y.-based ANG will develop an on-site CNG fueling facility at the Tops distribution center in Lancaster, N.Y. The facility will provide CNG fuel to Tops' new fleet of tractors, all of which are expected to be delivered in mid-2015.
"[O]ur priorities are to have a reliable fleet of well-maintained vehicles to ensure our stores receive deliveries on time," said Ron Ferri, SVP of distribution and logistics at Williamsville, N.Y.-based Tops. "With Ryder's natural gas vehicles, we have the confidence that we can get the service and performance we need from our new natural gas fleet, while operating more cost-efficiently and environmentally friendly."
Miami-based Ryder's advantages include 14 natural gas vehicle maintenance facilities and 260 natural gas vehicle-trained technicians. Tops chose ANG based on its expertise in designing systems that are durable and reliable in cold-weather climates.
Smaller Carbon Footprint
Additionally, the grocer has contracted with Amherst, N.Y.-based Wendel, a full-service architecture and engineering firm specializing in CNG, to serve as its strategic adviser throughout the procurement, design and construction process of the fueling facility. Wendel is helping ANG and Tops obtain the necessary permits and approvals from the town of Lancaster.
With the conversion to clean-burning natural gas, Tops will conserve more than 1.2 million gallons of diesel fuel per year. Additional benefits include a 50 percent reduction in annual fuel costs, fewer greenhouse gas emissions, and, since CNG engines are significantly quieter than their diesel counterparts, less noise generated by the fleet
Also part of the grocer's efforts to reduce its overall carbon footprint was a 2014 switch at the Lancaster distribution center from metal halide bulbs to energy-efficient LED lighting bulbs, slashing energy lighting consumption by 66 percent.
The anticipated station launch is slated to take place in late May 2015.
Tops operates 162 full-service supermarkets - 157 company-owned and five franchise locations - and employs 16,000 associates in upstate New York, northern Pennsylvania and western Vermont.