Fuel cell vehicles wait to be refueled
Three Toyota fuel cell vehicles wait to be refueled at the True Zero pump in Carmel Valley. Photo by Chris Jennewein

San Diego-based Sempra Energy‘s SoCalGas unit announced Thursday it is purchasing a fleet of Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicles, marking the company’s first purchase of hydrogen-powered vehicles.

The company said it has purchased 23 of the vehicles and will expand its fleet to 50 next month, making SoCalGas among the first utilities in the nation to start transitioning to hydrogen, according to the company.

Fuel cell vehicles utilize a reaction between hydrogen and oxygen to generate electricity and produce only water in their exhaust.

SoCalGas plans to replace 50% of its over-the-road fleet with clean fuel vehicles by 2025 and operate a 100% zero-emission fleet by 2035, the utility said.

“California companies must work together in the fight against climate change,” said Senator Susan Rubio, D-West Covina. “The transportation sector is one of the largest contributors of greenhouse gas emissions in California and these types of efforts will help the state meet its climate goals.”

Sandra Hrna, vice president of supply chain and operations support at the utility, said transitioning to a fuel cell fleet “will will help us reduce emissions, moving SoCalGas closer to our net zero goal and helping California reach carbon neutrality faster.”

SoCalGas is also studying the use of its natural gas pipelines to deliver hydrogen for powering vehicles.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.