Backed by four Oklahoma City-based businessmen, an effort is underway to encourage the U.S. Postal Service to convert its fleet to run on natural gas. Ron Mercer, John Vance, Scott Rayburn and John Morey are the principals behind the MERVAN Project, named after the last names of the first two of the above individuals. According to MERVAN Project Director Dave Evans, the first step is to launch a pilot project involving 500 USPS CNG vehicles and construction of a fast-fill CNG station at a post office in Oklahoma City. The choice of Oklahoma City is twofold: First, the Oklahoma City area is home to a well developed network of CNG fueling stations that can fuel the fleet and second, the Postal Service operates its national training center in nearby Norman, where Postal Service personnel would be trained to maintain the NGVs.
Additional CNG vehicles would be added to fleets operating out of other USPS post offices and service centers in a concentric manner with the Postal Service’s growing fleet of NGVs being fueled at stations built by private investors. The new stations would also offer public access. According to Evans, “The MERVAN Project will double the number of public access fill stations across the U.S. ensuring families have a convenient place to fill their vehicles.”
Meetings with NGV industry leaders and talks with state and congressional officials, Clean Cities representatives, and automakers have produced positive feedback for the MERVAN Project. Project Director Dave Evans is working with Congressional leaders to set up a meeting with Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe. Says Evans, “With a fleet of about 212,000 vehicles, converting the Postal Service fleet to run on natural gas would be huge for greening the nation’s transportation fuel chain, reducing emissions and our nation’s reliance upon imported oil, accelerating deployment of natural gas fueling infrastructure, not to mention saving a financially fragile Postal Service significant dollars and could generate as much as $3.5 billion in sales for U.S. automakers.”