GE and Chesapeake Energy Launch CNG In A Box™ System at NACS 2012


GE (GE) and Peake Fuel Solutions, an affiliate of Chesapeake Energy Corporation (CHK), today launched the CNG In A Box™ system, which allows easier adoption of compressed natural gas (CNG) refueling options for large- and small-scale retailers. The solution was unveiled at the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) 2012 Annual Show.

Natural gas is an abundant, reliable and cleaner-burning source of energy for consumers and commercial users. A vehicle fleet operator that uses the CNG In A Box system for natural gas fueling instead of traditional gasoline fueling can save about 40 percent in fuel costs1. The CNG In A Box system is a plug-and-play on-site fueling solution that comes with everything retailers need to add low-cost natural gas fuel to their operations quickly and simply. This GE ecomagination™ qualified refueling option provides an easy, lower-cost fueling experience for consumers and a higher-margin solution for facility operators compared to gasoline or diesel.

“In collaboration with Peake Fuel Solutions, GE is developing infrastructure solutions to accelerate the adoption of natural gas as a transportation fuel,” said Mike Hosford, general manager—Unconventional Resources, GE Oil & Gas. “The CNG In A Box system is a unique fueling solution that brings together some of the best innovation from across GE to help fleet owners and everyday drivers realize the benefits of cleaner burning, abundant, more affordable natural gas.”

“After working extensively with GE to develop the CNG In A Box system, we are excited to unveil it at NACS and to the fueling industry overall. Combining Peake Fuel Solutions’ natural gas expertise and GE’s breadth of cross-industry technology capabilities will advance the use of abundant and affordable natural gas fueling solutions,” said Kent Wilkinson, vice president—Natural Gas Ventures, Chesapeake.

The CNG In A Box system compresses natural gas from a pipeline into CNG on-site at a traditional automotive fueling station or industrial location. CNG-powered vehicles such as taxis, buses or small trucks, as well as individual consumer vehicles, can then refill their tanks using a dispenser with the same look and feel as a traditional diesel or gasoline dispenser.

GE ecomagination Vice President Mark Vachon said, “Natural gas is produced at a relatively lower cost and is cleaner burning than gasoline or diesel fuel—natural gas vehicles can show an emissions reduction of up to 80 percent compared to gasoline vehicles2. Through ecomagination, we’ll continue to deliver to the industry innovative solutions that deliver both great economics and environmental performance, and the CNG In A Box system exemplifies this commitment.”

Financing for the CNG In A Box system is offered by GE Capital, providing competitive rates and flexible payment options. By combining an entire acquisition—including equipment, delivery and installation—into a single monthly payment, Peake Fuel Solutions’ customers can structure payments according to their cash flow and eliminate the costs and time associated with paying multiple vendors. With this solution, business owners can work with a single provider to acquire, finance and maintain their CNG In A Box system.

The CNG In A Box system’s 8 foot x 20 foot container is easy to ship and maintain due to its compact design. Its modular and novel design makes it plug-and-play on-site. Wayne, A GE Energy Business, manufactures the dispensers that deliver the CNG from the CNG In A Box system unit to vehicles. These alternative fuel dispensers feature PCI-compliant pay-at-the-pump technology for a familiar and secure fueling experience. Using the same dispenser and payment terminal interfaces as Wayne petroleum dispensers simplifies point of sale integration.

As part of this collaboration between GE and Peake Fuel Solutions, beginning in the fall of 2012 GE will provide more than 250 CNG In A Box systems for natural gas vehicle infrastructure.

To learn more about the CNG In A Box system, visit us online or stop by the Peake Fuel Solutions booth at the NACS show (booth #6101).

Ecomagination is GE’s commitment to imagine and build innovative solutions to today’s environmental challenges while driving economic growth. For more on ecomagination, please visit:www.ecomagination.com.

About GE

GE (GE) works on things that matter. The best people and the best technologies taking on the toughest challenges. Finding solutions in energy, health and home, transportation and finance. Building, powering, moving and curing the world. Not just imagining. Doing. GE works. For more information, visit the company’s website at www.ge.com.

About Chesapeake Energy Corporation

Chesapeake Energy Corporation (CHK) is the second-largest producer of natural gas, a Top 15 producer of oil and natural gas liquids and the most active driller of new wells in the U.S. Headquartered in Oklahoma City, the company’s operations are focused on discovering and developing unconventional natural gas and oil fields onshore in the U.S. Chesapeake owns leading positions in the Eagle Ford, Utica, Granite Wash, Cleveland, Tonkawa, Mississippi Lime and Niobrara unconventional liquids plays and in the Marcellus, Haynesville/Bossier and Barnett unconventional natural gas shale plays. The company also owns substantial marketing and oilfield services businesses through its subsidiaries Chesapeake Energy Marketing, Inc. and Chesapeake Oilfield Services, L.L.C. Further information is available at www.chk.com where Chesapeake routinely posts announcements, updates, events, investor information, presentations and news releases.

About Peake Fuel Solutions

Peake Fuel Solutions advances innovative fuel solutions with products and services that create demand for clean, affordable natural gas. A significant focus of PFS is to increase compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG) infrastructure across the U.S. Other PFS projects include development of on-road and off-road technologies that reduce emissions and dramatically cut fuel expenses for the trucking, maritime, rail and oil and gas industries. An affiliate of Chesapeake Energy Corporation, Peake leverages the expertise of other Chesapeake affiliates to implement many of its fuel solutions. Further information is available at www.peakefuelsolutions.com.

1 Assuming 25,700 miles per year driven, gasoline priced at $3.50/gallon and CNG at $2.09/gasoline gallon equivalent.

2 Calfornia Energy Commission – Consumer Education Center:http://www.consumerenergycenter.org/transportation/afvs/cng.html

ecomagination is a trademark of the General Electric Company

CNG In A Box is a trademark of the General Electric Company

© 2012 General Electric Company—All rights reserved

Photos/Multimedia Gallery Available: http://www.businesswire.com/cgi-bin/mmg.cgi?eid=50433209&lang=en

MULTIMEDIA AVAILABLE:http://www.businesswire.com/cgi-bin/mmg.cgi?eid=50433209&lang=en

SOURCE- CNGNOW.com

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Natural gas vehicles pushed in La.

The push for compressed natural gas vehicles has gained some major traction with commitments from Ford, Chevrolet, Dodge and General Motors, but energy industry experts say federal incentives will be needed if real transformation is to occur.

“It is extremely nice to see that it’s actually here. A lot of times you talk about those things like they’re unicorns,” said Gifford Briggs, vice president of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association. “But now they’re here …. I think that is a huge first step towards making it (CNG) a little more mainstream acceptable.”

The energy industry has felt good about the direction CNG has taken for a while, Briggs said, but the advent of mass-produced pickups that can run on natural gas or gasoline opens the door on a national scale.

Louisiana has seen CNG advances because of its Haynesville Shale natural gas formation, LOGA, the energy industry, and companies like Chesapeake Energy Corp., Encana Corp., Petrohawk Energy Corp. and Apache Corp., Briggs said. But trying to get Mississippi, Alabama and Florida and other states that don’t have the energy infrastructure to support CNG has been more challenging.

That may be changing. Twenty-two states are part of an effort, led by the governors of Oklahoma and Colorado, to encourage automakers to make more affordable CNG vehicles for state fleets. Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has said the governors hope their efforts will help overcome some of the obstacles automakers face in producing a wider variety of CNG vehicles.

Oklahoma Energy Secretary Michael Ming said if the participating states could buy 5,000 CNG vehicles that would be great, but 1,000 is more likely given the current economic climate.

State government buys only about 40 percent of the public-sector vehicle purchases, Ming said. Municipalities and other political subdivisions account for 60 percent of sales.

If the municipalities — city and parish governments — tag along, the CNG sales could be significantly higher, Ming said.

Chris Knittel, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, described the states’ request as “interesting.”

The states presume the CNG vehicles available aren’t that affordable, Knittel said.

“There’s no magic wand that the automakers can wave that makes the CNG vehicles less expensive than gasoline-based vehicles,” Knittel said.

“But there are things that policymakers can do to level the playing field.”

States have to put policies in place with incentives that encourage consumers to switch, he said. Those incentives could involve making CNG fueling stations available, subsidizing vehicles or in-home fueling stations, or by lowering retail prices for natural gas.

Right now, the states aren’t guaranteeing anything to automakers, Knittel said.

“I think the states are just saying that if you build them, we’ll promise the consumers,” Knittel said. “I’m not sure that’s necessarily the case given the current structure of prices and the number of refueling stations around.”

There are roughly 1,000 fueling stations nationwide, and 123,000 CNG vehicles, Ming said.

In Louisiana, CNG vehicles make up less than 1 percent of the cars and trucks on the road, Briggs said. Nationwide, CNG vehicles are around 2 percent of the total.

But that can change if the state, local and federal governments and the private sector — the companies that operate fleets — work together, he said.

“I don’t think the federal government or the state government or the local government can do it by themselves, any more than I think the fleets can do it by themselves,” Briggs said.

But working together can make things happen, Briggs said. Just look at Lafayette, where the city-parish government and private sector have joined to make the state’s most aggressive move to CNG.

In July, Apache opened a public fueling station. The company also converted 15 of its vehicles in Lafayette, part of 300 conversions it will complete by yearend. The city-parish has converted five buses and announced plans to convert its entire fleet.

The city-parish is also trying to form a partnership with the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and the local school boards to convert all their vehicles, Briggs said. Acadian Ambulance is experimenting with CNG for its vehicles.

The East Baton Rouge City-Parish Government recently began looking into converting all of its vehicles to CNG. The city-parish expects the move will slash fuel costs, particularly for heavy-duty pickups and other vehicles that consume more fuel.

Chesapeake spokeswoman Katie McCullin said there is evidence across Louisiana that the state is leading the nation in natural gas usage.

For example, Shreveport has added 14 natural-gas powered buses, and Bossier City has added a second public fueling station. Holmes Honda in Shreveport and Bossier City received its first shipment of the Honda Civic Natural Gas, the only dedicated CNG vehicle now sold in the United States.

In total there are 10 public CNG stations in Louisiana, with more in the planning stages or under construction, McCullin said.

Chesapeake, a major player in the Haynesville Shale and other natural gas plays, is one of the leading proponents of CNG.

The Oklahoma-based company’s Fueling the Future Initiative is an effort to communicate how natural gas can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and end the United States’ dependence on foreign oil, McCullin said.

The company has a billboard off Interstate 10 near the state Capitol extolling the use of natural gas vehicles.

Chesapeake has participated and sponsored natural gas vehicle seminars nationwide and is converting its 5,000-vehicle fleet to CNG, McCullin said. UPS, Verizon Wireless, Waste Management, Disneyland Resorts and AT&T are also converting their fleets to CNG; in 2009, AT&T announced it would spend $350 million to buy 8,000 CNG vehicles.

McCullin said Chesapeake will also invest at least $1 billion over the next 10 years with Clean Energy, 3M Corp., GE and Sundrop Fuels in efforts to increase demand for CNG vehicles.

The work with 3M could revolutionize the design and manufacture of CNG tanks, the most expensive part of the CNG fueling system, McCullins said. The redesign is expected to lead to lighter, more durable and less expensive tanks.

Chesapeake expects these investments to be the tipping point that gives automakers the confidence to increase their production of CNG and liquefied natural gas vehicles, McCullin said.

Still, both Briggs and Knittel said federal incentives are needed if natural gas is to replace oil as a transportation fuel.

The federal government would be the best source for those incentives, Knittel said, because the benefits from CNG vehicles accrue to the nation, not just to the states.

Energy independence and a reduction in climate change help everyone in the United States, regardless of whether a Louisiana resident buys CNG vehicle, he said.

“When the benefits accrue to everyone, the best place to set the policies is at the higher federal level,” Knittel said.

Briggs said if the country wants to see “a monumental shift,” then Congress should pass the Natural Gas Act.

The act replaces CNG incentives that dropped off the books about three years ago, Briggs said.

That was about the same time that Louisiana passed its own CNG vehicle incentives, Briggs said.

Right now, with only the state incentives, a Louisiana consumer can recover the $10,000 it costs to convert to CNG in two years if he drives 15,000 to 20,000 miles a year.

Most people don’t drive that much, Briggs said. But if both federal and Louisiana incentives were in place, converting a vehicle would be free, and consumers would begin saving money instantly.

“You’re saving a dollar, a dollar fifty, two dollars a gallon,” Briggs said.

“That would register with the American public overnight.”

Briggs pays around 45 cents per gallon by fueling up at LOGA’s office station, he said.

At Apache’s Lafayette station, the cost is around $1.79 a gallon, which is still only about half the price of gasoline.

Briggs said there is enormous support for the Natural Gas Act, but he doesn’t expect Congress to pass the legislation anytime soon.

And Knittel said any new policies that involve handing out more money have little chance in Congress these days.

“Still, I could certainly see both sides of the aisle supporting CNG,” Knittel said.

The rhetoric from both parties suggests they would support natural gas vehicles, he said.

Meanwhile, the price of natural gas is lower than it’s ever been, and with shale gas so plentiful, prices are expected to remain low for some time, Knittel said. In the past, natural gas prices have been very volatile; the price might fall but no one expected it to stay there.

Now, natural gas is expected to remain at less than $5 per thousand cubic feet for the foreseeable future, Knittel said.

Briggs said the United States is the Saudi Arabia of natural gas.

“We have more natural gas than we know what to do with. We’re trying to export it,” Briggs said.

The country has so much natural gas that it’s going to run out of storage capacity, Briggs said.

“I think if the federal government … is serious about eliminating our dependency on foreign oil, the only viable alternative is natural gas,” Briggs said.

Congress should pass the Natural Gas Act, he said.

“Let’s get it on the books, and let’s see if we can get started transforming America’s transportation infrastructure” Briggs said.

Source:  The Advocate

Looking to get a cng station? Check us out http://www.fenleynicolenvir.com/cng.html

Obama Administration Finalizes Historic 54.5 mpg Fuel Efficiency Standards/ Consumer Savings Comparable to Lowering Price of Gasoline by $1 Per Gallon by 2025

WASHINGTON, DC – The Obama Administration today finalized groundbreaking standards that will increase fuel economy to the equivalent of 54.5 mpg for cars and light-duty trucks by Model Year 2025. When combined with previous standards set by this Administration, this move will nearly double the fuel efficiency of those vehicles compared to new vehicles currently on our roads. In total, the Administration’s national program to improve fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions will save consumers more than $1.7 trillion at the gas pump and reduce U.S. oil consumption by 12 billion barrels.

“These fuel standards represent the single most important step we’ve ever taken to reduce our dependence on foreign oil,” said President Obama. “This historic agreement builds on the progress we’ve already made to save families money at the pump and cut our oil consumption. By the middle of the next decade our cars will get nearly 55 miles per gallon, almost double what they get today. It’ll strengthen our nation’s energy security, it’s good for middle class families and it will help create an economy built to last.”

The historic standards issued today by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) build on the success of the Administration’s standards for cars and light trucks for Model Years 2011-2016. Those standards, which raised average fuel efficiency by 2016 to the equivalent of 35.5 mpg, are already saving families money at the pump.

Achieving the new fuel efficiency standards will encourage innovation and investment in advanced technologies that increase our economic competitiveness and support high-quality domestic jobs in the auto industry. The final standards were developed by DOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and EPA following extensive engagement with automakers, the United Auto Workers, consumer groups, environmental and energy experts, states, and the public. Last year, 13 major automakers, which together account for more than 90 percent of all vehicles sold in the United States, announced their support for the new standards. By aligning Federal and state requirements and providing manufacturers with long-term regulatory certainty and compliance flexibility, the standards encourage investments in clean, innovative technologies that will benefit families, promote U.S. leadership in the automotive sector, and curb pollution.

“Simply put, this groundbreaking program will result in vehicles that use less gas, travel farther, and provide more efficiency for consumers than ever before—all while protecting the air we breathe and giving automakers the regulatory certainty to build the cars of the future here in America,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Today, automakers are seeing their more fuel-efficient vehicles climb in sales, while families already saving money under the Administration’s first fuel economy efforts will save even more in the future, making this announcement a victory for everyone.”

“The fuel efficiency standards the administration finalized today are another example of how we protect the environment and strengthen the economy at the same time,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “Innovation and economic growth are already reinvigorating the auto industry and the thousands of businesses that supply automakers as they create and produce the efficient vehicles of tomorrow. Clean, efficient vehicles are also cutting pollution and saving drivers money at the pump.”

The Administration’s combined efforts represent the first meaningful update to fuel efficiency standards in decades. Together, they will save American families more than $1.7 trillion dollars in fuel costs, resulting in an average fuel savings of more than $8,000 by 2025 over the lifetime of the vehicle. For families purchasing a model Year 2025 vehicle, the net savings will be comparable to lowering the price of gasoline by approximately $1 per gallon. Additionally, these programs will dramatically reduce our reliance on foreign oil, saving a total of 12 billion barrels of oil and reducing oil consumption by more than 2 million barrels a day by 2025 – as much as half of the oil we import from OPEC each day.

The standards also represent historic progress to reduce carbon pollution and address climate change. Combined, the Administration’s standards will cut greenhouse gas emissions from cars and light trucks in half by 2025, reducing emissions by 6 billion metric tons over the life of the program – more than the total amount of carbon dioxide emitted by the United States in 2010.

President Obama announced the proposed standard in July 2011, joined by Ford, GM, Chrysler, BMW, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar/Land Rover, Kia, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Toyota, and Volvo, as well as the United Auto Workers. The State of California and other key stakeholders also supported the announcement and were integral in developing this national program.

In achieving these new standards, EPA and NHTSA expect automakers’ to use a range of efficient and advanced technologies to transform the vehicle fleet. The standards issued today provide for a mid-term evaluation to allow the agencies to review their effectiveness and make any needed adjustments.

Major auto manufacturers are already developing advanced technologies that can significantly reduce fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions beyond the existing model year 2012-2016 standards. In addition, a wide range of technologies are currently available for automakers to meet the new standards, including advanced gasoline engines and transmissions, vehicle weight reduction, lower tire rolling resistance, improvements in aerodynamics, diesel engines, more efficient accessories, and improvements in air conditioning systems. The program also includes targeted incentives to encourage early adoption and introduction into the marketplace of advanced technologies to dramatically improve vehicle performance, including:

Incentives for electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, and fuel cells vehicles;

Incentives for hybrid technologies for large pickups and for other technologies that achieve high fuel economy levels on large pickups;

Incentives for natural gas vehicles;

Credits for technologies with potential to achieve real-world greenhouse gas reductions and fuel economy improvements that are not captured by the standards test procedures.

Clean Technica (http://s.tt/1lWlH)

California and American West Top 2012 State Clean Energy Index

California is the top clean energy state in the United States for the third consecutive year, and the American West region continues to lead the national clean tech economy, according to a new ranking from industry analysts Clean Edge.

The 2012 State Clean Energy Index, the third-annual such analysis, aggregates various industry data into one scoring system. Overall scores are awarded on a 100-point scale based on three categories – installed technology (clean electricity, clean transportation, energy intelligence & green building), policy outlook (regulations & mandates, incentives), and invested capital (financial, human & intellectual).

#1 — California

California dominated the rankings with a 91.1 score, more than 10 points higher than the second-ranked state, even though it lost 4.2 points from 2011. The Golden State “has established itself as the world’s preeminent testing ground for clean technology of all kinds,” and led the country in nearly all aspects of market expansion, including new wind and solar, hybrid and electric vehicles (EV), and green building.

However, the state’s most notable achievement comes in attracting venture capital. California-based clean energy startups saw $9 billion in investment over the past three years, more than the combined total of all 49 other states.

#2 — Oregon

Oregon held onto its second-place rank, gaining 0.5 points for a 79.9 score. Clean Edge credits the state’s success to consumer-driven demand for clean tech products and services, the highest national participation rates for voluntary green pricing programs, the largest concentration of LEED-certified buildings, and one of the highest rates of hybrid-electric vehicles per-capita.

#3 — Massachusetts

Massachusetts jumped 4.3 points to retain its third-place rank with a score of 76.1. Clean Edge attributes the state’s strength to an existing base of energy efficiency measures, a $500-million infusion of venture capital investment in 2011, and the Boston metro region’s network of universities. The index considers this concentration of education and startups second only to Silicon Valley.

#4 — Washington State

Washington State, buoyed by a 9-point increase, jumped from sixth overall in 2010 to the fourth-ranked state in 2011 with a score of 69.0. This ranking was due to newly added wind capacity and strong hydropower output, which helped to generate more than 84 percent of all in-state electricity from low-carbon sources (up from 72 percent in 2010). In addition, the state’s focus on building out an EV charging network could make it an industry epicenter moving forward.

#5 — Colorado

Rounding out the top five was Colorado, which maintained the fifth-overall rank from 2010 with a five-point score increase to 65.1. Clean tech infrastructure continues to grow in the state, especially in green building, wind power, and solar photovoltaics. Interestingly, Colorado also checks in as the third most attractive destination for venture capital investment, thanks largely to the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

National trends

Clean Edge also noted four impressive national trends:

  • Six states now generate more than 10 percent of their utility-scale electricity from wind, solar, and geothermal – twice as many as 2010.
  • Nearly two million hybrid cars are now registered in the U.S., and nearly 50,000 all-electric vehicles now ride our roads.
  • The 29 states with renewable portfolio standards (along with Washington, D.C.) now represent nearly two-thirds of the total national generating capacity.
  • Clean energy patents granted to U.S. entities exceeded the 1,000 mark for the first time in history.

Remainder of top ten

The index also highlights interesting factors that helped determine the rank of the rest of the top-ten states:

  • New York State (64.9) ranked sixth, generating more GDP dollars per kilowatt-hours consumed as a result of extensive energy efficiency measures, and the upstate region is a growing hotbed of clean energy R&D.
  • Illinois (59.8) ranked seventh, reflecting rural areas of the state’s focus on agriculture and biofuels development as well as Chicago’s leadership in green building and energy efficiency.
  • New Mexico (58.1) ranked eighth, due largely to the state’s growing importance to the solar industry and importance as a key market for PV deployment and technology development.
  • Vermont (56.5) ranked ninth on the strength of an environmentally minded population, high percentage of hybrid-EV deployment, and energy efficiency measures.
  • Minnesota (54.6) ranked tenth as a notable national leader in wind energy and biofuels. The state was one of only five in 2011 to generate 10 percent of its power needs from wind, and is among the highest national ethanol producers.

Even though national support for clean energy technology may be uncertain, state-level support remains strong and the green economy continues to grow. “The state-level scene shows a diversity that crosses political boundaries and regions,” said Ron Pernick, Clean Edge managing director. “The next decade will determine which nations, states, and cites lead in clean tech.”

Source: Clean Technica (http://s.tt/1d4mi)

Is it a Hybrid or Electric Car? In Massachusetts, Check The Plate

massachusetts electric car plate

These days, unless you’re an ardent fan of hybrid or electric cars, it can be pretty hard to tell them apart from their gasoline equivalents.

For the average motorist it isn’t an issue, but for first responders attending the scene of an accident, it’s important to know what a crashed car is powered by.

Which is why the state of Massachusetts is becoming the second state in the U.S. (after Hawaii)  to fit electric and hybrid cars with special license plates designed to warn recuse crews that they’re dealing with an electric or hybrid car.

The new license plates were introduced after the National Fire Protection Association recommended them as an additional precautionary measure to protect emergency workers.

prius crash

 “You want to make sure that it’s completely disabled,” Mark Sylvia, commissioner of the state’s Department of Energy Resources told Boston.com. “You want to make sure any issues relative to electric shock are addressed.”In the past, various states have employed different measures to protect fire-crews and first responders from mishandling electric and hybrid car crashes, ranging from specific training courses to smartphone electric and hybrid car identification applications.

It is hoped that Massachusetts’ approach will be easier to implement in the field, since first responders will only have to look for one of two different license plate designs.

It’s likely that some advocates will argue that the new plates only further alienate the public from hybrid and electric cars.

After all, gasoline cars are far more likely to burst into flames in an accident than a hybrid or electric car, both of which have sophisticated interconnection systems designed to make the car’s high-voltage battery pack safe in a crash.

But with high-voltage cabling often hidden behind panels and under floors, safety workers need to ensure the car’s battery pack is safe before using cutting machinery to rescue occupants.

By offering a visual prompt, Massachusetts hopes both car victims and rescuers remain safe at all times.

Massachusetts has already produced 17,600 of the specialized plates, which are available at Registry of Motor Vehicles offices statewide.

For new car owners, the plates will cost the same as any other regular plate, although owners of existing electric or hybrid cars can swap their plates free of charge for the official electric/hybrid plate.

Rev up the tapping of our own natural gas

Rev up the tapping of our own natural gas

Image
Chicago Tribune  – Monday, February 06, 2012

If you are going to transform American energy to address the national security and economic risks associated with our OPEC oil dependence, there is only one solution: move our natural gas reserves into transportation, with an emphasis on the heavy-duty truck and fleet-vehicle markets.

Free-market advocates argue that’s bad public policy. They fail to understand that OPEC is far from a free market. They’ll tell you we shouldn’t pick winners and losers in the transportation fuel segments. I say it’s time to pick America over OPEC. Let’s go with anything American. I’m fine with the battery, but remember, it won’t move an 18-wheeler.

Imagine the impact natural gas could have in solving our energy problem. Targeting heavy-duty trucks and fleet vehicles — about 8.5 million in all — could cut our OPEC oil dependence in half in 10 years or less.

Fortunately, while we wait for Washington policymakers to lead, the move to replace more expensive, dirtier OPEC oil, diesel or gasoline with cheaper, cleaner domestic natural gas is gaining private-sector support. At an event in Chicago last week, two leaders in the natural gas vehicle industry — Navistar and Clean Energy Fuels — announced a plan to aggressively develop a comprehensive system to build natural-gas truck engines and provide the infrastructure to fuel them.

Over-the-road trucks tend to run the same routes on the same schedule. Drivers stop in the same places to rest, eat and refuel. Putting natural-gas refueling stations along the major travel routes is a relatively minor logistical issue. Building natural-gas engines for those trucks will be a major job creator.

We’re a country awash in natural gas. Since 2008, the biggest shift in energy resources has been the enormous reserves of natural gas in the vast shale deposits in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and Appalachia. New deposits are being tested in places like Iowa and Ohio, but even now, we have a 125-year supply of domestic natural gas literally under our collective feet.

On the world market, natural gas is selling from $12 per million cubic feet in Europe to $16 in the Middle East. The price in the United States? Less than $3 because of our massive reserves.

Getting that natural gas out of the ground and into our rolling stock is another major job creator. A recent study by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP suggests that by utilizing America’s shale gas resources, “U.S. manufacturers could employ approximately 1 million more workers by 2025.”

America is sending nearly $1 million a minute out of the country to pay for foreign oil. We’re paying about $100 per barrel for foreign oil and, in the case of OPEC oil, often to nations that are hostile to our best interests.

With gasoline at the pump climbing toward $4 per gallon we might have thought energy would have emerged as a top-tier election year issue. In spite of the lingering threat to our economic recovery and our national security, it has not.

For more than four decades, every presidential candidate has said something to the effect of “Elect me, and we’ll be energy independent.” That’s four decades of failed promises.

Once we have serious fuel competition, we can control our energy destiny, have a better grasp on our energy costs and achieve what we’ve been promised for decades. To make that happen, we have to get on our own resources and in this case natural gas is an obvious winner.

T. Boone Pickens is founder and chairman of BP Capital.​

This article was first published by Chicago Tribune.