Carpool Lanes Open to Drivers of Natural Gas Vehicles; Law Allowing Solo Drivers Access to Carpool Lanes Takes Effect July 1

Jun 28, 2000, 01:00 ET from Southern California Gas Company

    LOS ANGELES, June 28 /PRNewswire/ -- Beginning July 1, 2000, many drivers
 of alternatively fueled cars and vans, including natural gas vehicles (NGVs),
 will have access to California's high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes regardless
 of the number of occupants aboard.  Enacted last year by the California
 Legislature as AB 71, the new law is a boon to companies and consumers who
 have already taken steps to decrease smog and pollution by purchasing NGVs.
     "The new law opening up HOV lanes to natural gas vehicle drivers offers a
 well-deserved perk to our customers who have made a real commitment to the
 environment by using clean-burning fuel," said Rick Morrow, vice president of
 customer service and marketing of energy transportation services for Southern
 California Gas Company (The Gas Company).
     There are currently 18,000 NGVs on the road in California, and this
 special program is open to the 6,000 that fall under the weight requirement of
 14,000 pounds or less and run exclusively on natural gas.  Those affected
 include fleets owned by SuperShuttle, the United States Post Office, the City
 of Los Angeles, American Taxi and United Parcel Service.  Owners of qualifying
 vehicles must register with the DMV and display a special DMV-issued decal.
 The registration and decal will also help California Highway Patrol enforce
 existing HOV lane laws.
     Not only do NGVs burn cleaner than their gasoline counterparts, emitting
 up to 95 percent less pollution, but cheaper fuel and lower maintenance costs
 also make them more economical.  For the past 18 months, fuel for NGVs has
 averaged around $1.10 for a gasoline gallon equivalent, compared to upwards of
 $1.60 and rising per gallon of gasoline.  This works out to a savings of $5 or
 more with each fill up.  In addition, natural gas' octane rating of 130,
 compared with the 87 to 92 rating of gasoline, ensures that NGVs have as much
 power and efficiency as standard cars.  Natural gas public fueling stations
 are conveniently located across Southern California near major freeways and
 highways; a comprehensive list of new and existing stations is available at
     This summer, The Gas Company is offering drivers the opportunity to try
 out an NGV, fuel included, for five million meters (or about three thousand
 miles).  Contestants can register to win use of a Honda Civic, Toyota Camry or
 Ford F-150 NGV at designated participating NGV dealers, by visiting or by calling (800) 427-4400.  Three winners will be
 announced in mid-August.
     For more information on registering an alternatively fueled vehicle for a
 DMV-issued decal, visit their web site at, or call your local
 DMV and ask them to mail DMV Form 156 to you.
     Southern California Gas Company (The Gas Company) is the nation's largest
 natural gas distribution utility, serving more than 18 million people through
 5 million meters.  The company's service territory encompasses more than
 23,000 square miles throughout central and Southern California.  The Gas
 Company is a subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE:   SRE), a Fortune 500 energy
 services company based in San Diego, with 12,000 employees, revenues of nearly
 $5.5 billion and serving nine million customers in the United States, Europe,
 Canada, Mexico and South America.

SOURCE Southern California Gas Company