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Santa Monica Considers “New Generation” of Bus Engines
Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark
Roque & Mark Real Estate
2802 Santa Monica Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90404
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Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica


By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

August 4, 2016 -- Santa Monica City buses, already fueled by renewable natural gas, are likely to start running soon with many engines that produce near-zero Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) emissions, City officials said.

A $7 million five-year proposed contract headed to the City Council on Tuesday would install ISL G Near-Zero 0.02 NOx emission engines on 60 buses in the Big Blue Bus (BBB) system, a report to the council said.

BBB’s current fleet includes 200 buses.

Nitrogen Oxides are a family of "poisonous, highly reactive gases" that form when fuel is burned at high temperatures, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

“The use of near-zero emission engines on the bus fleet represents an opportunity to significantly reduce the City's emission of harmful pollutants,” BBB Director Edward King said in his report.

Also included in the proposed contract with California-based Cummins Pacific Corporation are in-chassis overhauls of 50 existing bus engines close to the middle of their 12-year life span. Aging Fire Department truck engines also are to be overhauled as needed, King said.

The “new generation” of near-zero NOx gas engines cuts emissions to 90 percent below guidelines by the federal Environmental Protection Agency, he said.

All of the BBB’s buses are now powered by Cummins ISL G natural gas engines, which King said operate at 50 percent below EPA guidelines for greenhouse gas emissions.

“New innovations in natural gas engine technology, combined with the timing of vehicles reaching the mid to end of their useful life cycle, have presented Big Blue Bus with the opportunity to immediately reduce its emissions of harmful pollutants,” the report said.

The EPA links pollution from Nitrogen Oxide emissions to lung diseases such as emphysema and bronchitis, the worsening of existing heart disease and to increased hospital admissions and premature death.

King said both the EPA and the California Air Resources Board (ARB) have rated the new Cummins ISL G Near-Zero emission engines at 0.02 g/bhp-hr (grams per brake horse power hour) of NOx.

Still, “further significant reductions” are needed to meet rougher new air quality guidelines by 2023, King said.

Under the proposed contract, Cummins receives an amount not to exceed $1,314,475 (including a 10 percent contingency) for one year. It adds four more one-year options with three percent annual increases, totaling no more than $7,029,055 over five years, staff said.

King said the 60 new engines will allow BBB to cut NOx emissions by an estimated 51 percent annually -- or a total NOx reduction of 18,395 pounds per year.

The City, which is known for its “green” policies and practices, hit a milestone last year after all of its buses became powered by renewable natural gas (RNG). RNG is non-fracked methane harvested from organic waste in landfills.

Last month, the City Council voted to set in motion a plan for zero carbon emissions from its Big Blue Bus fleet by 2030 ("Santa Monica's Big Blue Bus Could Go all Electric by 2030," July 7, 2016).

Santa Monica’s goal is zero emissions from its bus fleet.

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