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Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.- based Patriot CNG has broken ground on a new fast-fill compressed natural gas (CNG) station for Florida City Gas, a wholly owned subsidiary of Atlanta-based AGL Resources.

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Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.- based Patriot CNG has broken ground on a new fast-fill compressed natural gas (CNG) station for Florida City Gas, a wholly owned subsidiary of Atlanta-based AGL Resources.

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Chevrolet has debuted its new compressed natural gas (CNG) bi-fuel 2015 Silverado 2500HD and 3500HD trucks, which offer a total driving range of up to 650 miles while maintaining strong horsepower and torque performance.

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As much of America gets gassed debating whether or not an electric car will outsell a hydrogen fuel cell car, truck owners stand by amused. It will be quite some time before any of these new technologies can deliver the power required by a truck. Nevertheless, change is under way in 2014. An American energy boom has driven natural gas prices down and offerings of bi-fuel trucks up. Here's a look at which compressed natural gas, or CNG, powered trucks are available this year.

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Pennsylvania-based Clinton County Solid Waste Authority has opened to the public its new compressed natural gas (CNG) refueling station, located at the Wayne Township Landfill in McElhattan, Pa.

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by Scott Levine, The Motley Fool Dec 11th 2013 3:22PM

It's not uncommon to see eyes roll at the mention of alternative fuel vehicles. Perhaps, it's because people relegate these vehicles to a distant future with images of silent highways populated by whizzing electric cars. The reality, however, is that alternative fuel vehicles are becoming increasingly popular among car buyers. For some, it's the financial benefit, for others it's the environmental, and for a small number it's the convenience. But, in the end, it may be the last reason, which is the tipping point in the widespread adoption of, specifically, natural gas powered vehicles.

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The significant and sustained lower relative cost of natural gas compared to petroleum-based fuels provides a strong incentive for fleets and individuals to shift to natural gas vehicles (NGVs). But those who seek to make such a switch face two significant obstacles: the higher up-front cost of NGVs and the lack of a comprehensive fueling infrastructure for either compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Both the federal government and many state governments provide subsidies, tax incentives and loan programs to address these two obstacles. These public policies promote the use of NGVs (and other alternative fuel vehicles) by defraying their higher up-front costs and also support build-out of more natural gas fueling stations. Other policies provide incentives to use alternative fuel vehicles, such as the ability to use high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes regardless of the number of passengers in a vehicle.

 

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Ed Pompey, a 24-year-old Johnson College student, grew up in the heart of the Marcellus Shale boom in Susquehanna County.

Mr. Pompey is studying at Johnson College in Scranton to be a diesel mechanic. He thinks compressed natural gas, or CNG, will be the transportation fuel of the future.

"It's a great opportunity if I take advantage of it," he said.

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By Jason Hall
November 21, 2013

Natural gas vehicles, at least in the U.S., haven't really been in demand for many years. The cheap gasoline (and diesel) that we have enjoyed for decades simply created a situation where there wasn't enough pain at the pump to drive any kind of demand of natural gas as a transportation fuel. However, the domestic cost of gas and diesel, largely driven by the international oil market, has risen considerably in the past half-decade, while the overall price of natural gas has stayed relatively low.

Domestic oil consumption has continued to decline, since peaking in 2006.

With this trend expected to continue as natural gas vehicles start to take market share in both commercial shipping and for private transportation, investment in production and infrastructure to support the growth in demand is ramping up. Does this create any opportunities for investors? Let's take a closer look.

Chicken or egg? Neither
It's only been in the past few years that expensive (by American standards) gas and diesel has created any sustained interest in natural gas vehicles. Add in what is shown above -- a trend of reduced consumption of oil that is also expected to continue -- and this has led companies like Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE: RDS-A ) and ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM ) to step up their involvement in natural gas production and refueling in North America.

ExxonMobil is one of the largest companies in the world, a dominant player in oil and gas exploration, production, and sales to both consumers at retail and contract sales to fleets. One only has to look at its own website to see that natural gas is going to become a growing part of the company's future results:

For the next two decades, over half the growth in unconventional gas supply will be in North America, moving the U.S. energy mix toward a lower-carbon resource. This competitive energy supply provides a strong foundation for increasing economic output in the United States, opening up new and valuable opportunities in many regions and sectors of the U.S. economy...
ExxonMobil's domestic gas production also points at this: The company was the largest domestic producer of natural gas during the second quarter of 2013. Expect to see ExxonMobil continue to be active in this space.

Shell has been a big player in natural gas for years and is already one of the largest natural gas suppliers in the world. But the company isn't stopping at production. In April, Shell and TravelCenters of America (NYSE: TA ) announced plans to open LNG refueling lanes at "at least" 100 TA and Petro stations in major shipping corridors across North America.

This announcement followed two in March. The first announced plans for two liquefaction plants to provide LNG for heavy-duty land and marine vehicles in the Gulf Coast and Great Lakes regions. The second announced a collaboration between Shell and Volvo, which aims to "provide a complete solution to customers to help them convert to LNG as a fuel."

It's not just big oil

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Dallas Area Rapid Transit expects to cut its fuel bills by 60% or even 65% through 2020 via a combination of hundreds of new CNG vehicles and an eight-year natural gas supply contract with the state.

The Texas contract for natural gas will take the agency's average fuel cost down to about $1 per gallon, says DART VP Mike Hubbell.

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Mokena, IL based Ozinga Brothers, which delivers concrete throughout the Chicago region and northern Indiana, plans to convert its entire fleet of 500 ready-mix trucks to run on CNG by 2020. The company will operate 112 CNG ready mixer trucks by year's end, up from 82 now, probably the largest fleet of CNG ready mixers in any fleet in the country today. Ozinga operates two ready mix truck configurations: front discharge Oshkosh tractors, and rear discharge Kenworth tractors. In their CNG configurations, both are outfitted with Cummins Westport's 8.9 liter ISL G engine. The company's fleet also includes 25 CNG fueled support vehicles.

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Fleets that register and operate medium- and heavy-duty vehicles in the state of Pennsylvania can now take advantage of the second round of a key grant initiative, announced over the weekend.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is administering these Act 13 Natural Gas Vehicle grants, and about $11 million will be issued through this funding round. The grants are financed through the impact fees that natural gas companies pay to the state.

 

The grants are designed specifically to help fleets defray the cost of acquiring a new NGV or performing an NGV conversion. Money is available for vehicles with a GVWR exceeding 14,000 lbs., and the awards are capped at $25,000 per vehicle (no more than 50% of the conversion cost or incremental cost of an OEM NGV).

Half of this funding round is being funneled exclusively to local transportation organizations, such as nonprofit public transportation agencies, port and redevelopment authorities, and school districts. The other 50% of the funding will be available to all other entities, including nonprofit organizations, private companies, state universities and municipalities.

Grant requests can be no more than 50 percent of the incremental purchase or retrofit cost per vehicle, with a maximum of $25,000 per vehicle.

Applications are due by 4 p.m. Eastern on Friday, Jan. 10, 2014. There will be a special webinar on Wednesday, Nov. 20, from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. for interested parties to learn more about the grant solicitation.

More information is available from the PA DEP here:http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/act_13/20789/natural_gas_vehicle_program/1157504

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The state Department of Environmental Protection announced $3 million in grants to fund natural gas vehicles today.

 

 

The Alternative Fuels Incentive Grant (AFIG) program was established in 1992 to fund a variety of alternative fuels- including compressed natural gas (CNG), liquefied natural gas (LNG), ethanol, hydrogen, and electricity.

Most of the projects awarded today are for CNG vehicles. A few were for propane, which is produced as a by-product of natural gas processing and crude oil refining.

"This funding makes it possible for many commercial, county and non-profit groups to convert their lighter-weight vehicles to natural gas or other alternative fuels," Acting Secretary Chris Abruzzo said in a statement.

This round of funding was targeted at fleets for businesses, nonprofits and municipalities, but the DEP says citizens can also apply for AFIG rebates of up to $3,000 on alternative fuel passenger vehicles.

Here's a list of all the projects and the amounts they received from the DEP:

Adams

Aero Energy, purchase of three and conversion of 10 commercial fuel delivery vehicles to operate on propane – $52,626

Allegheny

McCandless Township Sanitary Authority, conversion of five vehicles to operate on propane bi-fuel as an investigative demonstrative program to determine if propane can be a viable alternative to gasoline for use in municipal government fleets across Pennsylvania – $21,374

U.S. Steel Corporation, conversion of eight vehicles to CNG to be fueled by natural gas supplied from U.S. Steel's Irvin Plant CNG fueling station – $52,618

Armstrong

CWM Environmental, conversion of 10 vehicles to CNG bi-fuel utilizing EPA certified Auto Gas America kits – $50,975

Bradford
Consolidated Resource, purchase or convert five vehicles to CNG bi-fuel – $25,000

Bradford County Commissioners and Partners, purchase 14 CNG or CNG bi-fuel vehicles. Partners include Northern Tier Counseling, Bradco Supply Company, Hurley Supermarkets, Inc., M.R. Dirt, Inc., and the Dandy Mini Marts, Inc. – $70,020

Butler

Air Star Transportation, conversion of 35 vehicles to propane bi-fuel. Five of the vehicles are propane ADA-compliant wheelchair lift vans – $111,500

Cranberry Taxi, retrofit 25 new dedicated CNG vehicles to expand its para-transit services. CNG fuel systems to be installed by World CNG in Norristown, Montgomery County – $156,250

SWEPI, L.P. (subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell) purchase 10 CNG bi-fuel vehicles, which will reduce gasoline fuel costs for the fleet by approximately $40,000 a year. SWEPI LP has natural gas exploration and production operations in Tioga County, and has been coordinating with the Tioga County Commissioners to support and advance additional natural gas filling stations – $55,000

Centre

Centre County Commissioners and Partners, purchase eight dedicated CNG and three CNG bi-fuel vehicles to serve para-transit, police and public works operations. Partners are: County Office of Transportation, Centre Area Transportation Authority, Ferguson and Patton townships – $70,146

Clarion

Redbank Chevrolet Partners, conversion of 37 vehicles to CNG. The partnership involves 20 local businesses under a coalition to support and take advantage of a growing local network of CNG fueling stations- $208,800

Francis J. Palo Partners, purchase 14 CNG vehicles and convert three vehicles to CNG, and convert two vehicles to propane as a part of an aggregation of fleet vehicles for four businesses in Clarion County – $118,750

Clearfield

Clearfield County Area Agency on Aging, conversion of four vehicles to CNG bi-fuel and purchase one dedicated CNG vehicle for use in the county's Meals on Wheels program, serving eligible residents of Clearfield County – $28,994

Columbia

Heller's Gas, purchase of 10 propane trucks, eight for bulk delivery of gas, and two rack trucks. This project will displace approximately 40,500 gallons of diesel fuel per year – $124,472

Crawford

Vantage Healthcare Network, purchase five propane vehicles to be used for delivery of linen and pharmacy service to multiple hospitals and nursing homes throughout western Pennsylvania – $29,889

Dauphin

Pennsylvania American Water Company, purchase 14 CNG bi-fuel vehicles to be used to maintain water service to customers – $62,800

Delaware

Keystone Quality Transport, conversion of 74 vehicles to CNG dual fuel, conversion of 73 vehicles to propane, and purchase eight propane vehicles as part of their program to retrofit their entire fleet of para-transit and ambulance vehicles – $248,000

Delaware Express Shuttle, purchase 15 CNG airport shuttle vehicles that will provide service to and from the Philadelphia airport and throughout Southeast Pennsylvania – $96,000

Greene

EMS Southwest, conversion of two wheelchair vans and four ambulances to propane with a service territory in the greater Greene County area – $24,600

Jefferson

O Ring CNG Fuel System and Partners, purchase 18 new CNG vehicles and convert six existing vehicles to CNG. Four local business partners include: O Ring CNG Fuel System, Snyder Brothers, Inc., 3M Transport, LLC, and Dedicated Delivery Service – $133,715

Lackawanna

L.T. Verrastro, Inc., purchase 20 CNG vans, trucks, and sport utility vehicles. LTV has recently initiated the installation of a CNG filling station at its own facility in Old Forge, Lackawanna County. LTV intends to allow local municipalities to access their CNG fill station, along with a structured public access – $135,461

Lancaster

City of Lancaster, purchase six CNG vehicles with the goal of improving the air quality in Lancaster County, as well as reducing the city's fuel costs – $29,950

Luzerne

DeAngelo Brothers, conversion of 43 light and medium-duty trucks from gasoline to propane – $153,000

Montgomery

King Limousine Service, purchase five CNG shuttles vans to provide passenger shuttle service throughout Southeast Pennsylvania – $32,488

VNG Company and Partners, purchase 32 CNG vehicles. Partner fleets include: Aqua PA, Comcast, and HB Electric Services. These vehicles will support the development of a new public CNG fueling station by VNG – $235,000

Asplundh Tree Expert Company, purchase seven CNG trucks for use in its tree trimming business. This project will displace approximately 14,000 gallons (GGE) of gasoline a year – $43,148

Philadelphia

Greater Philadelphia Clean Cities and Partners, purchase 50 propane school buses. Partners include: G. Davis, Inc. in Shohola, serving Pike, Luzerne and Wayne counties; North Pocono Bus Company, serving Lackawanna County; Norristown Area School District, serving Montgomery County, and Radnor Township School District, serving Delaware County – $250,000

Philadelphia Gas Works, purchase 50 CNG vehicles to demonstrate to PGW customers the financial viability of CNG as a fleet fuel – $240,000

Pike

Aqua Pennsylvania Inc., purchase nine CNG vans. This project intends to displace approximately 15,000 gallons of petroleum gasoline annually – $55,807

Washington

McKean Plumbing Heating and Supply Company, conversion of two vehicles to propane and purchase three propane delivery and service vehicles – $20,000

York

Shipley Energy Company York, retrofit 10 gasoline powered HVAC service vans to bi-fuel CNG and replace three service vans with three brand new dedicated CNG vehicles – $75,700

Shipley Energy Company Hanover, conversion of 10 service vehicles to propane bi-fuel – $35,000

Utztran Quality Foods, conversion of 10 delivery trucks to CNG. Each year, this project will displace approximately 14,860 gallons (GGE) of gasoline – $102,050

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By MIKE RAMSEY Oct. 29, 2013 6:37 p.m. ET
Operators of some of the largest U.S. truck fleets, including Lowe's Cos., Procter & Gamble Co. and United Parcel Service Inc., are accelerating a shift to natural gas fueled trucks, betting on new engine technology that promises to drop the cost of shifting from diesel fuel.

Home-improvement retailer Lowe's wants its delivery company to shift all of its several hundred trucks to natural gas by 2017. P&G already has 7% of its trucks on gas and could reach as much as 20% within two years. UPS says it plans to buy 1,000 natural gas trucks by the end of next year. FedEx Corp. plans to shift 30% of its long-distance trucks to natural gas over the next decade.
The nation's supply of relatively cheap
natural gas is helping spur this shift. So are new natural gas engines that can power heavy-duty trucks that weigh up to 80,000 pounds. The first, a 12-liter Cummins Westport Inc. natural gas engine went on sale in
July. Next year, Volvo AB, the Swedish heavy truck maker, will introduce a natural gas engine for its trucks.
Long-distance trucking companies, like Con-way Inc., Schneider National Inc., Swift Transportation Corp. and Werner Enterprises Inc.
are testing compressed natural gas and liquefied natural gas powered trucks as they awaiting more powerful engines and a nationwide fueling and repair infrastructure. Higher initial cost for vehicles, scant natural-gas vehicle suppliers and fuel availability have been impediments.
The take up is just starting: About 5% of all heavy duty trucks sold next year will run on natural gas, up from around 1% this year, according to industry projections. Barriers to wider use are coming down, driven by the relatively low cost of compressed natural gas, or CNG, which sells for about $1.50 less a gallon than its equivalent in diesel fuel, which averaged about $3.87 a gallon this week.
A shift to natural gas for trucking has implications for the U.S. consumption of oil, domestic energy industry and air quality. Natural gas produces less carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and sulfur-based pollution than diesel or gasoline per mile driven.
The average heavy truck consumes as much fuel as 40 sedans in a year. Such vehicles make up just 1% of the U.S. vehicle fleet, but consume 20% of the fuel, according to
Jim Arthurs, the president of Cummins  Westport, a joint-venture of engine makers Cummins Inc. and Westport Innovations Inc. Diesel-engine trucks get between 5 miles a gallon and 7 mpg and average 100,000 miles a year.
"Within five years, 30% of our fleet could be natural gas," said Ike Brown, president of logistics and trucking company, NFI Intermodal, which provides deliveries to Lowe's in Texas and has some 2,200-trucks in its fleet.
"It's cleaner than the average truck running today," said Steve Palmer, vice president of transportation for the Mooresville, N.C.-based Lowe's. "It's a long-term play that could save a lot of money." The retailer plans to have 100% of its fleet on natural gas by 2017. "And I do believe the 12-liter engine was the inflection point," Mr. Palmer said.
Some other classes of commercial trucks have made rapid shifts to natural gas. This year about 60% of all new garbage trucks purchased use natural gas. Those trucks mostly use a smaller 8.9-liter engine that has been available for several years.
Waste Management Inc.,the largest garbage company in the U.S., has converted about 15% of its 22,000-truck fleet to natural gas. About 90% of its future purchases will be natural gas fueled, helping it save between $15,000 and $20,000 a year per vehicle, a two-year payoff for the more expensive truck.
"It would be a big gamble to flip to" natural gas "if we thought it was going to flip back to diesel being cheaper," said Waste Management's Chief Executive David Steiner. "But as far out as we can see, we think you are going to have lower gas prices and higher diesel prices."
Right now, the expansion into natural gas is inhibited by the scant number of fueling stations and the time required to refill gas tanks. For example, Lowe's has asked NFI Intermodal to start using natural gas powered vehicles to serve its stores in Pennsylvania, but it has to wait for a fueling network to be built.
Private fleets typically operate on regional or local routes, allowing them to refuel at their operators' terminals and garages rather than depending on highway fueling stations. Refilling a compressed natural gas vehicle can take all night with low-pressure compressors or as little as 10 or 15 minutes for a 40 gallon tank using high-pressure "fast-fill" stations. Fast-fill gas is less dense and doesn't allow for as much range on a single tank.
PepsiCo plans to have three natural gas fueling stations in operation by the end of this year and has said it would build seven more. It is also expanding its fleet of natural gas vehicles to 208 which, when it announced that move in June, said it would be "one of the largest compressed natural gas fleets in the U.S."
For many private fleet operators, said Glen Kedzie, vice president and energy and environmental counsel of the American Trucking Associations, "it's a competitive advantage." Over the last two years, he said, truck stop players like Knoxville, Tenn.- based Pilot Flying J and Clean Energy Fuels Corp have been building the infrastructure for trucks to fuel with natural gas.
The cost of the natural gas trucks is still an issue. CNG trucks cost between $40,000 and $50,000 more than a diesel truck, which costs about $120,000, primarily because of the large carbon-fiber fuel tanks required to store CNG or liquefied natural gas. In large fleets, that premium could add millions of dollars to equipment cost.
Still, trucking companies see longer term benefits. Ryder Systems Inc., one of the largest buyers of trucks in the U.S., is quickly adding natural gas to its 50,000-truck fleet, but just how fast it will grow depends on how much truck prices come down and how fast fueling stations pop up, said Scott Perry, vice president of supply management, for Miami-based Ryder.
"I think 10% to 20% is realistic," within five years. "But we still have to see about all the variables."
Clean Energy Fuels, the largest natural gas fueling station company, is working on both the infrastructure and the vehicle cost problems. The Irving, Texas-based company, founded by oil man T. Boone Pickens, has more than 400 fueling stations and is building a network across the country. Recently the company offered a deal through General Electric Co's leasing arm that allow trucking companies to lease a new vehicle for the same price as a diesel if they agree to a fuel contract.
"This is just one of the last barriers," said the president of the company, Andrew Littlefair. "Now they can start saving money immediately."
Mr. Arthurs, the president Cummins Westport, thinks the price of the trucks could come down quickly. There are only a handful of fuel tank makers, but they are expanding capacity and recently St. Paul, Minn.-based 3M got into the business, adding a major manufacturer to the supply chain.
Internal combustion and diesel engines can be converted to natural gas relatively easily. The engines work the same, but require modifications because of the lack of lubrication from the fuel itself.
"It has a very strong value proposition for us," said Mr. Peters, whose fleet at Ryder leases out or operates about 50,000 heavy trucks. "The unknowns are the technology platforms, the engine platforms, the fueling infrastructure, inefficiencies. But it is resonating very strongly."
—Bob Tita and Betsy Morris contributed to this article. Write to Mike Ramsey at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Bills could deliver sizable subsidies over a decade
November 3, 2013 11:29 PM

By Marc Levy / Associated Press
HARRISBURG -- The discovery five years ago that the Marcellus Shale, the nation's largest natural gas reservoir, could spew big profits and cheap, homegrown energy has -- in turn -- spurred gas-friendly state officials to run up a growing taxpayer-funded tab to encourage the use of the hydrocarbonsBills pending in the Republican-controlled Legislature could deliver hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies over a decade -- possibly approaching $1 billion -- and that's in addition to the expanding number of checks being written by Gov. Tom Corbett.

With the assent of lawmakers, Mr. Corbett, a Republican who says the industry has the potential to reindustrialize Pennsylvania, has tapped four pots of money for more than $30 million for natural gas projects.

That includes money for a processing project by plastics maker Braskem SA of Brazil, pipeline construction to link facilities of French drugmaker Sanofi SA, scores of compressed natural gas vehicles and about a dozen fueling stations. About one-fifth of that money is drawn from a $200 million-a-year drilling fee on the industry.

On top of that, lawmakers last year approved what could become the state's biggest taxpayer-paid economic development incentive ever -- possibly in excess of $1 billion over 25 years -- to entice the construction of a multibillion-dollar petrochemical refinery to convert natural gas liquids into ethylene for the plastics and chemicals industries. Netherlands-based oil and gas giant Royal Dutch Shell PLC is considering it.

Patrick Henderson, a deputy chief of staff for Mr. Corbett who spearheads the administration's energy policy, couldn't say how much money the administration ultimately would be willing to spend to encourage natural gas use.

Some of the subsidies were drawn from economic development incentive money that is designed to spur hiring, and it was coincidental that natural gas was a key aspect of the project, Mr. Henderson said.

Otherwise, Mr. Henderson said, the state so far has made a "relatively modest investment of dollars" for compressed natural gas vehicles and fueling stations, primarily to convert diesel-powered bus and truck fleets.

The argument for Pennsylvania's rising natural gas vehicle subsidies is that the money boosts the local economy by favoring a domestic industry and diversifies the nation's fuel sources by displacing oil that is more expensive and often from abroad. Supporters also tout natural gas as a cleaner energy source, but researchers at the Engine Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Center for Alternative Fuels, Engines and Emissions at West Virginia University say there is very little difference in pollution from a new diesel engine and a natural gas engine.

The Corbett administration wants to strategically plant vehicles and fueling stations to encourage public- and private-sector fleet managers to invest their own money in the enterprise, Mr. Henderson said.

"If we can get one or two into your fleet and show you it works, you're more inclined to buy going forward," Mr. Henderson said. "That's really the goal, to have mini-demonstration success stories in a host of fleets. Our goal is not to buy 20 vehicles for the guy who has 20 in his fleet."

Other states also offer an array of subsidies that encourage natural gas use, but a comprehensive tally does not seem to exist.

Of the bills pending in the Pennsylvania Legislature, up to $60 million a year in a wide-ranging transportation funding bill passed overwhelmingly by the Senate in June would be available to help the state's mass transit agencies convert their fleets to "an alternative energy source, including compressed natural gas."

Mr. Henderson was noncommittal toward several other House bills that, combined, would devote an additional $360 million over a decade to natural gas vehicles and fueling stations.

"It is a lot of money," Mr. Henderson said. "We do have to be mindful of that."

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By Anya Litvak / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

A spate of new compressed natural gas stations is in the works in southwestern Pennsylvania at a pace that could double the number of places available in the region to fill up CNG-powered vehicles within two years.

A joint venture between Washington, Pa.-based Shale Hotels Inc. and Coolspring, Pa.-based "O" Ring CNG Fuel Systems LP, which builds stations, is planning a facility in Bentleyville, Washington County, just down the street from the Best Western and Holiday Inn Express hotels where odd-hour breakfasts and boot-washers service the rig crowd. Many companies in the Marcellus Shale industry are converting their fleets to run on CNG.

Shale Hotels manages a group of hotels owned by Kam Gosai and a group of other doctor investors. Tejas Gosai, owner and president of the hotel company and Dr. Gosai's son, said from now on, when he builds a new hotel, he'd like to throw in a CNG station.

There's potential for two to four more such stations through his partnership with "O" Ring, Mr. Gosai said. He'd like the next one to be at Southpointe, but finding land there has been difficult.

Other potential sites would be north and south of Southpointe on I-79, and somewhere near New Stanton.

Mr. Gosai, for one, is going all in on the American fuel independence promise.

He has swapped his Honda for a Dodge, which he plans to convert to CNG. In the meantime, he's working on getting his family's stainless steel DeLorean (think "Back to the Future") running and converted to compressed natural gas. Mr. Gosai already has registered the domain fracktothefuture.com.

There are five public CNG stations in southwestern Pennsylvania: EQT's Strip District facility, Giant Eagle's Crafton and Cranberry locations, American Natural's Station Square station, and Waste Management's Clean-n-Green station in Washington.

Another six stations to the north and east of the city are within an hour and a half drive, including four public stations owned by "O" Ring.

At least three other CNG stations are planned in the region.

IGS Energy, an Ohio-based energy marketing company, is looking to build a station in Mount Morris, Greene County, according to Pittsburgh Region Clean Cities.

Beemac Trucking is finishing up construction of a station in Ambridge that is scheduled to open before the end of the year. Beemac is converting its fleet of trucks to run on natural gas.

Giant Eagle is doing the same. In the past several years, the O'Hara-based grocer has received more than $2 million in grants from the state's Department of Environmental Protection for alternative fuel vehicles and infrastructure. It has partnered with Volvo to increase the size of the CNG engine in certain trucks and has committed to buying them.

"O" Ring president Bob Beatty has seen the CNG business grow at his own stations, where business doubles weekly, he said. His company also has helped to install 17 other CNG stations in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, and Maryland over the past six years.

Another eight are on order, Mr. Beatty said, including those in the joint venture.

The average cost is about $2 million per station.

"Seven or eight years ago, it was an idea," he said. "Six years ago, we hadn't built our first station yet. Now we have eight public stations under contract.

"We're providing the chicken, so lots of eggs are being laid."

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The idea of powering vehicles with natural gas isn't new. Since the 1920s, there have been trucks and other vehicles fueled by natural gas. But, with advances in technology and the low price of natural gas relative to other fuels, truck companies are increasingly looking at options that include CNG or compressed natural gas and LNG or liquefied natural gas.

At stake: millions of dollars in savings for truck and transportation companies. "There's big money on the table," Jim Arthurs said.

Arthurs is the president of Cummins Westport, a joint venture between Cummins Inc and Westport Innovations Inc. Between them, Cummins Westport and Westport are responsible for nearly every naturalgas engine in medium-and heavy-duty trucks installed in new vehicles in North America today. Both companies are Vancouver-based.

"Fuel is more than 80 per cent of the operating cost, sometimes 90," Arthurs said.

On average, a truck might run more than 1.2 million km throughout its lifetime and use 160,000 gallons of diesel fuel. If savings are $1.50 a gallon - an amount that varies, Arthurs notes - fuel savings can be in the $200,000 to $240,000 range for engine where gas is injected under high pressure.

Conventional gas engines have slightly lower fuel economy, but savings could still be in the $160,000 to $200,000 range, Arthurs says.

A major issue for trucks is storing enough gas, which takes far more room than conventional diesel.

Transportation

Natural gas fuel comes in two forms, liquefied and compressed. Natural gas has to be compressed into either form to make it economical for on-theroad use because four times as much natural gas is required to get an equivalent amount of energy as from diesel fuel.

Storage for CNG, which is stored in pressurized tanks, "needs to be four times bigger to get the same range out of your truck," Arthurs said.

This is fine in a transit bus or garbage truck (both transit and waste management companies have been early adopters) which are operated close to their depots and refuelling.

But for a bigger truck that might require more range, further compression is required. That's where liquefied natural gas comes in. Liquefying natural gas requires super-cooling the gas to -160 C. "The fuel tanks are basically like big Thermos bottles," Arthurs said. "They're a dualwall vacuum-insulated tank. You put it (LNG) in the tank and keep it cold."

The equivalent energy of one cubic foot of diesel fuel takes about 1.8 cubic feet in LNG form.

"You've got a lot more range for the same amount of space on the vehicle," Arthurs said. "It's still not as good as diesel or gasoline, but much, much closer than what you get from CNG."

To use LNG, it is run through a heat exchanger and is warmed back up to a gas.

However, with LNG and CNG, there's not enough heat to create combustion in a regular diesel engine. To combust, the gas requires either a spark-ignited natural-gas engine (LNG and CNG) or high-pressure direct injection (LNG).

It is the technology for the high pressure direct injection method, which uses a small amount of diesel to ignite the natural gas, that was developed at UBC in the early 1990s, Arthurs says.

"Originally, the company was targeting the heavy-duty truck engine base with the new technology," Arthurs said.

Joint venture

This technology gave rise to Westport Innovations, which has continued to develop and commercialize engines using high pressure direct injection.

In addition, Westport formed a joint venture with Cummins in 2001 to develop and commercialize natural gas engines using spark ignited technology.

Both companies make new engines. Retrofitting existing diesel engines is uncommon, though there are some companies that retrofit truck engines to a mix of CNG and diesel, Arthurs says. Most are in the U.S. and "limited to doing older trucks because they don't meet current U.S. EPA emissions standards, but the EPA does allow older trucks - 400,000 miles old - to be modified with a CNG system. It's not a big business yet."

Companies that retrofit trucks are "competition in one way, but ... not in another," Arthurs said.

As yet there is no LNG infrastructure, so the more wheels on the ground using the fuel makes it better for everyone.

"A truck fleet never goes out and buys all new trucks," he said. "You tend to replace 10 trucks a year. We've got customers where they say, in order to get natural gas, I need to get some fuelling capability where I'm operating."

Lack of stations

There are close to 1,300 stations offering CNG in North America, Arthurs says. In Vancouver there are seven stations with CNG. But there are only 80 LNG stations in North America, with a similar number in development. They are generally found on large highways. Solutions including convincing gas stations to provide LNG or CNG in their location, but it's often not worth it for the amount of traffic it will bring.

Another solution is fuelling up at home, so to speak. That's what a number of Vedder Transport trucks do.

In 2011, the Abbotsford-based company replaced 55 diesel tractors with 50 LNG vehicles and, in conjunction with FortisBC, opened its own fuelling station.

The company was looking for an alternative fuel source for two reasons, says Vedder president Fred Zweep.

"Vedder is predominantly food-grade application, and our clients were challenging us on an ongoing basis to reduce our carbon footprint," he said. "So we were looking at different ways of trying to reduce that carbon footprint."

Greenhouse gas emissions are down from those produced by the diesel fleet, he says.

"We feel we're emitting between 25 and 30 per cent less greenhouse gas emissions by operating that natural gas technology," he said. "We're seeing that in our oil samples. They're far cleaner in a natural gas environment than a diesel environment. We think we're going to see a longer life to the equipment as well."

Reducing emissions

Before 2010, natural gas engines were much cleaner than diesel engines, Cummins Westport's Arthurs says. But the U.S. EPA tightened emissions requirements in 2010. "Since then, diesel engine emissions levels have been reduced by over 90 per cent and natural gas and diesel engines now have fairly similar environmental profiles," he said.

Vedder was also looking for a more durable technology.

"Nobody in North America pulls the type of weight that we pull with that natural gas equipment," Zweep said. "Now, two years into operating those 50 vehicles, we are pushing in excess of 400,000 kilometres on some of that equipment, and in excess of 5,500 hours. You're getting some good utilization on that equipment that you can use to determine whether or not you're getting the durability out of it. And we certainly are."

Arthurs says the cost-benefit of operating the trucks "is still under review."

Other fleet owners are wary of the new technology, Zweep says. But that's starting to change.

"Now that we've been leaders in adopting the technology, and people are starting to see the results, there are other fleets now that will be bringing on LNG," he said. He estimates between 50 and 60 additional Class 8 (over 33,000 lbs.) LNG vehicles will be on the road in the next year.

And when there are more natural-gas-fuelled vehicles on the road, Vedder will be ready.

"One day, when people become more engaged with the technology, we would like to convert our fuelling station to a retail operation," he said, "so that it will be accessible to anyone transitioning to either a CNG or LNG technology."

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/business/Truck+fleets+turn+save+money/9106116/story.html#ixzz2jJ2AGyHL

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AT&T says it has placed over 7,500 alternative fuel vehicles in 44 states nationwide, reaching the halfway mark of its commitment to invest up to $565 million to deploy close to 15,000 alternative fuel vehicles by 2018.

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Oct 25, 2013 (Menafn - M2 EQUITYBITES via COMTEX) --Ryder System Inc R, a commercial transportation and supply chain management solutions company, disclosed on Thursday that Saddle Creek Logistics Services (Saddle Creek) signed an agreement with the company for a natural gas vehicle solution, in two markets.

 

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WASHINGTON -- General Motors said it will sell a version of the Chevrolet Impala sedan with the ability to switch between gasoline and natural gas, part of the automaker's plan for taking advantage of a U.S. drilling boom that has made natural gas a more viable fuel for cars.

 

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Rising fuel costs has forced those in law enforcement to think outside the box. CNG power vehicles are becoming the future of the Wagoner County Sheriff's Department. A black F-150 XL and the first truck they have equipped for compressed natural gas.

 

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Trucking fleets are converting in droves from diesel fuel to natural gas, said John Hausladen, CEO of the Minnesota Trucking Association, which hosts a related summit Thursday at the Earle Brown Heritage Center in Brooklyn Center.

Natural gas is plentiful, up to $2 cheaper per gallon than diesel fuel and manufacturers are collaborating on heavy-duty engines that can power big rigs, Hausladen said.

"New natural gas engines are more expensive but the difference in price can be paid back in a couple of years or less," he said. "We're seeing the fueling network being built out."

Moreover, it's cleaner-burning and cuts carbon-dioxide and other emissions.

Thursday's meeting will include experts from Kwik Trip, Dart Transit, natural-gas distributor Clean Energy Fuels, engine manufacturer Cummins Westport and truck makers Volvo and Daimler.

Convenience store chain Kwik Trip, which has converted 50 of its 350 light-duty and semitrailer trucks to compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG), has added natural gas pumps at 17 of its 430 fueling stations in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa. More are on the way.

Joel Hirschboeck, superintendent of alternative fuels at Kwik Trip, said the company has ordered 35 new semitrailer trucks that will run on natural gas.

"We're no longer purchasing diesel-fueled trucks, and we're transitioning our fleet to natural gas," he said. "Its cost and environmental benefits ... natural gas is a domestic, cleaner-burning fuel."

Recently, Phoenix-based Republic Services added 23 CNG solid waste and recycling trucks to its Twin Cities fleet, replacing older, diesel-powered trucks.

Republic, which also installed a local natural gas fueling station, projects that each new CNG-fueled truck reduces ozone-forming emissions by as much as 80 percent when compared to older diesel-powered trucks. Republic operates a fleet of more than 1,400 CNG vehicles and 26 natural gas fueling stations nationwide.

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Leon County Schools is entering phase three of its implementation of CNG after completing a new bus maintenance facility over the summer. More than a quarter of the fleet now operates on the alternative fuel.

 

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Ford announces that the 2014 F-150 will be available this fall. The half-ton pickup features a 3.7-liter V6 engine and can operate on either natural gas or gasoline through separate fuel systems.

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Florida Governor Rick Scott has signed HB 579 into law, which replaces the state's alternative fuel annual decal fee program with a new tax structure for compressed natural gas, liquefied natural gas, and propane auto gas, and establishes a rebate program for natural gas fleet vehicles. The vehicle rebates will cover up to 50% of the incremental cost of the natural gas or propane vehicles, limited to $25,000 per.

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Welcome to our new website. Check back often as we'll be posting relevant news and insights. 

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