Chairman of the Public Utility Commission, Rob Powelson, says he’s encouraging vehicle fleets to take advantage of the gas that’s being extracted from the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania.

“I’m not saying we should come out swing for the fences Powelson said. “But when you start looking at the advantage of having this inexpensive supply right here in Pennsylvania, the fact that vehicles emit less pollution and run quieter on CNG (compressed natural gas) it just make sense to encourage its use.”

Powelson is also serving on the Governor’s recently formed Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission, where he says he’ll likewise push for greater use of CNG. Powelson first made his thoughts known on fleet use of CNG in a Commission ruling involving a Spanish solid waste firm Veolia Environmental Services North America, which has multiple locations in the United States.

In the PUC ruling, Powelson wrote: “I would encourage Veolia management to consider how they could utilize CNG-powered vehicles in Pennsylvania to help us grow greener and support the development of the Marcellus Shale and the opportunities it presents our Commonwealth. CNG-powered fleets provide an alternative energy solution which is better not only for the environment but would impact the lives of all Pennsylvanians for the good.”

For its part, the company announced in November, 2010 that it introduced a fleet of CNG vehicles in Fort Myers, Florida.

“I read about what they did in Florida,” Powelson said. “I’m hoping they do the same here.”

The company is unsure of fleet plans in Pennsylvania, according to a company spokesperson.

In Florida, Veolia began using 32 CNG-powered refuse collection trucks in the Fort Myers area in October. The company also invested in a CNG fueling infrastructure system on-site in Fort Myers, which utilizes time-fill fueling technology that allows drivers to fuel their trucks during overnight hours, minimizing administrative and operational downtime.

In a statement, the company noted that CNG produces 29 percent less carbon dioxide than oil and is 90 percent cleaner than diesel in its natural state, thus reducing the trucks’ overall operating impact on the environment.