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World Famous Hearst Castle(R) Converts Entire Fleet Of Shuttle Buses To Clean Natural Gas

Hearst Castle? this week becomes the first California state park ...

Hearst Castle? this week becomes the first California state park to operate a fleet of 100 percent natural gas-powered buses when it unveils 16 new clean-fuel buses June 23. The new buses will replace old diesel-powered buses and reduce harmful air emissions by up to 75 percent.

``These clean-fuel vehicles will help preserve the pristine nature of the San Simeon area while improving the quality of the park's transportation services,'' said Ed Redig, chief of historic preservation at Hearst Castle?. The full-sized buses will transport nearly 1 million visitors annually from the visitor center to the hilltop Hearst Castle?, a 10-mile round trip.

``This fleet of natural gas buses will improve air quality, reduce noise, save tax dollars and help eliminate reliance on imported oil,'' said Richard M. Morrow, vice president of customer service and marketing at Southern California Gas Company's Energy Transportation Services unit.

A new natural gas service line installed by Southern California Gas Company (The Gas Company) will bring natural gas to the new fueling station located at Hearst Castle.

``The environmental and health benefits of natural gas buses are numerous,'' Morrow said. ``Emissions from natural gas buses are dramatically lower than diesel bus emissions. This means cleaner air.''

The natural gas-powered buses are expected to reduce nitrogen oxides by 58 percent; hydrocarbons by 82 percent; and the amount of carbon monoxide by 84 percent. Particulate matter will be reduced by 77 percent.

``Ten years ago when the present bus fleet was acquired there were no clean-fuel alternatives available,'' said Morrow. Today the picture is entirely different as natural gas buses represent the technology of choice in transit applications.``

The new natural gas buses will displace almost 400,000 gallons of imported diesel fuel with regionally produced natural gas. The new fleet will also reduce noise pollution by 10 to 12 decibels. ``In terms of noise, natural gas buses are similar to the level of typical light duty trucks,'' Morrow added.

The unveiling of the new buses supports a movement by members of a clean-air partnership to improve air quality, enhance the quality of transportation services and preserve the pristine natural of the San Simeon area. Members of the clean-air partnership include Hearst Castle?, California State Parks, San Luis Obispo Air Pollution Control District, the California Energy Commission and The Gas Company.

At the dedication ceremony June 23, 2001, The Gas Company will present Hearst Castle? with its prestigious Energy Smart Award for achieving significant environmental improvements particularly in the area of air quality. There also will be resolutions from the California Energy Commission and State Senate and Assembly.

Also on Saturday there will be an Alternative Energy Fair at Hearst Castle's? visitor center, which is open to the public and will highlight various types of natural gas, electric and other alternative vehicles.

Southern California Gas Co. (The Gas Company) is the nation's largest natural gas distribution utility, serving 18 million consumers through 5 million meters. The company's service territory encompasses 23,000 square miles in most of central and Southern California. The Gas Company is a subsidiary of Sempra Energy, a Fortune 500 energy services holding company based in San Diego. The Sempra Energy companies' 12,000 employees serve more than 9 million customers in the United States, Europe, Canada, Mexico, South America and Asia.

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