At least one postal worker in Melville will now be driving "green."
Friday, the U.S. Postal Service rolled out the first hybrid collection livery truck in the state. The vehicle is part of a postal service test project on the use of alternative fuel vehicles.
Postal service district manager Ken Hale unveiled the vehicle outside a Huntington Station post office, where he was joined by Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington), Town Supervisor Frank Petrone, town board member Stuart Besen and others.
"We look forward to conducting this test and continuing our efforts in being an energy conservation leader," Hale said.
The Eaton Corp.-designed truck uses a system that recovers energy normally lost during braking and stores the energy in batteries.
"Ultimately, we want to replace the gas guzzlers with hybrids," Israel said. "If the federal government starts to convert these vehicles to alternatively fueled hybrid vans and trucks, we will save millions of dollars in fuel costs and create new demand for energy-efficient development and manufacturing."
Israel said the postal service maintains the largest civilian vehicle fleet in the world with about 221,000 vehicles in service.
The vehicle will be used to pick up mail deposited in area boxes.
At the unveiling, Israel announced he has secured $712,000 in federal funds to develop a plan to bring fuel-efficient hybrid vehicles to Long Island's entire postal service fleet.
Israel shared several facts: the postal delivery fleet drives 819 million miles a year, uses more than 100 million gallons of fuel, and every penny increase in gas cost the postal service an additional $8 million. Last year's higher gas prices added $459 million to the postal services budget.
"The federal government keeps lecturing the public to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and to omit less carbon, but we have to lead by example, and that's exactly what this program intends to do," said Israel, who serves on the House appropriations subcommittee on energy and water.
Israel said the funding came through the Department of Transportation and was given to the state Energy Research and Development Authority, which will partner with the postal service to develop the vehicle pilot project for Long Island.