Pennsylvania environmental officials are offering $10 million worth of incentives to companies, government agencies and nonprofits for the purchase of cars or light trucks that run on natural gas or to convert lighter-weight vehicles that now use gasoline.
Today the term Marcellus Shale is a household name. It’s transformed Pennsylvania’s economy and has elevated the state’s energy profile. Recent production figures from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection illustrate the prolific nature of this play. Production topped 895 billion cubic feet of natural gas for the first six months of 2012, pushing the total production over 2.5 trillion cubic feet since 2008.
How big is this? Pennsylvania has gone from importing 75 percent of its natural gas just five years ago to being a net exporter today.
Thanks to an abundance of this resource, much attention has been focused on its safe and responsible development. However, another area gaining attention is the role natural gas plays in our transportation sector.
With substantial cost saving and environmental benefits, employing more vehicles fueled by natural gas will put us on the road to a cleaner energy future. The increasing attention on natural gas as a transportation fuel is evident in a variety of ways.
Nearly 200 people attended a recent Natural Gas Utilization Conference in State College. Hundreds of residents are attending PA Department of Environmental Protection’s natural gas vehicle workshops.
The Turnpike Commission is engaged in a study looking at the feasibility of liquefied natural gas stations along the turnpike. Even at the recent annual ShaleNET Workforce Forum, the discussion included new careers in transportation related to NGVs and natural gas fueling infrastructure.
Announcements have been made by auto manufacturers such as Chrysler to offer bi-fuel engines on its Ram model, and Honda is increasing production of its natural gas Civic. Other auto manufacturers such as Ford and GM also offer natural gas fleet options and all heavy duty truck manufacturers now offer natural gas in their lineup.
In addition, engine manufacturers are developing natural-gas powered engines for on-road and off-road equipment.
To support these new natural gas vehicles, drivers need fueling infrastructure. In response, numerous cities and companies have announced plans to open natural gas fueling stations for public and private use nationwide.
And Pennsylvania is leading that charge. Chesapeake Energy has announced the development of several compressed natural gas filling stations in the Northern Tier to fuel its vehicles while opening the stations to the public. EQT has had a public CNG station opened for more than a year in Pittsburgh’s Strip District.
Other companies have recently opened CNG stations in Bucks and Delaware counties and more are being planned throughout the state — including LNG stations.
Building on these infrastructure and auto manufacturing announcements, the Department of Environmental Protection has aggressively been educating the public on its natural gas energy development program.
Through public workshops and via its website, DEP is helping consumers, fleet owners and public officials make informed decisions on utilizing natural gas as a transportation fuel.
To put a finer point on the potential benefits, natural gas use in power generation has helped achieve the lowest carbon dioxide emissions in 20 years, with significantly lower smog and ozone-causing emissions as well. It can similarly help clean up transportation emissions. It’s also cheaper than conventional gas and diesel — by more than 50 percent.
That’s more money kept in our communities and in your pockets. Costs to convert fleets can be recaptured in short order, helping businesses save money, expand their operations and increase their competitiveness in a national and global economy.
Using more natural gas vehicles is a solution to help Pennsylvania and other states reach their clean air goals. Thanks to an abundance of supply and exciting advances in vehicle and engine production, we can safely and responsibly use this resource to get on the road to a cleaner transportation future.
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
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What’s the Status of Natural Gas Vehicles?
In years past, a number of auto manufacturers offered cars and light trucks that could operate on compressed natural gas (CNG). All automakers exceptHonda have left this market in the U.S., although companies like BAF Technologies do modify select existing models to run on gaseous fuels. This lack of CNG vehicles should change for the better since natural gas has so much going for it, especially in this age of rising gasoline and diesel prices and a growing dependence on imported oil. Natural gas is the cleanest burning of all fossil fuels, it’s found in abundance in the U.S., and it’s also significantly less expensive than gasoline.
Safe and Reliable
CNG is actually a safer fuel than gasoline. After all, natural gas is used in virtually every home. Unlike gasoline that can pool on the ground in the event of an accident or leak, CNG dissipates harmlessly into the air. With a very narrow range of flammability to be combustible and nearly twice the ignition temperature of gasoline, it’s also less likely to cause a fire. Because natural gas is such a clean burning fuel, carbon deposits in an engine are nil, reducing cylinder and ring wear so engine life can be much greater than when running on gasoline. Oil change and tune up intervals can also be extended.
Natural Gas is Growing in Popularity
Natural gas vehicles are growing in popularity. This has been driven in recent years by the medium- to-heavy duty market. Natural gas is now widely used in transit buses, school buses, refuse trucks, package delivery trucks, and vehicles used in ports. One thing these all have in common is that they can be refueled at a central location. This is not the case with cars and light trucks that travel where natural gas might be difficult to find. This could have contributed to the lack of interest in natural gas vehicles by general consumers in the past. In recent years, companies like Clean Energy have successfully driven natural gas vehicle use by building fueling stations and supplying natural gas under multi-year contracts to fleets at costs significantly less than the per-gallon cost of gasoline or diesel. Fleet use should lead to greater consumer use in the future.
Convenient At-Home Refueling
At present there are about 800 natural gas stations available nationwide, compared to 175,000 stations dispensing gasoline. Refueling at a fast-fill CNG station takes no longer than tanking up with gasoline. As the fueling infrastructure builds for CNG, the inconvenience of limited public fueling opportunities is softened by the availability of filling up at home. That’s because Honda offers the Phill home refueling appliance, which was developed in conjunction with its Canadian technology partner Fuelmaker and is now manufactured by that company. Phill can be installed in a garage or outside a home to allow refueling using a home’s natural gas supply. The refueling appliance does require as much as 16 hours to fill an almost empty tank, although it’s likely that a natural gas vehicle refueled at home will rarely have an empty tank, and an overnight top-off will usually be sufficient for the daily commute. In many cases, vehicles fueled up at favorable natural gas home rates can operate as cheaply as the equivalent of $1.25 to $1.50 per gallon.
Honda’s Civic GX
Unlike bi-fuel vehicles previously offered by other automakers that could run alternatively on natural gas or gasoline, Honda’s “dedicated” natural gas Civic GX – the industry’s cleanest internal combustion production vehicle – has an engine that’s optimized to run only on this alternative fuel. The Civic GX comes only as a four door sedan that looks identical to gasoline Civics. Its 113 horsepower four-cylinder engine produces about 27 hp less than the standard Civic engine but you really can’t feel the difference during normal driving. The equivalent of 8 gallons of natural gas fuel is stored in a 3600 psi pressurized fuel cylinder located at the forward part of the trunk. This tank, which is hidden behind a carpeted liner, does consume some trunk space but leaves quite adequate room for carrying groceries, gear, and luggage. The Civic GX has an EPA estimated 24 mpg city/36 mpg highway fuel rating, about the same as the gasoline Civic. Its real-world driving range is approximately 200 miles between fill-ups. At $25,225, the GX costs about $7,000 more than the gasoline powered LX model but presently qualifies for substantial federal tax credits and other incentives. At this time in California you can even obtain a decal that allows driving a Civic GX in HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle, or “carpool”) lanes even with only one person in the car. This is the same benefit enjoyed by qualified hybrid cars that were issued decals in the state, although no new hybrid decals are available since the maximum allocation of hybrid HOV decals has been reached.
Source : Greencar.com
Late last week, our team from Westport Innovations braved the wind and rain in Times Square to show off the new Westport WiNG-powered bi-fuel Ford F-250. It was the final stop on a four-day road trip from Detroit to New York City, powered entirely by compressed natural gas (CNG).
The drive itself was terrific. It was great getting to spend time with my colleagues, Arnie Campbell, John Howell and Alissa Marczewski who all took turns driving, refueling and delighting in the $40 fill-ups.
Even better was the chance we got to meet with supporters, enthusiasts and people who had no idea what CNG was or that there are light-duty options in the United States. We were continually encouraged by folks who would pull up next to us at a stoplight or in a parking lot and start asking questions about driving on CNG. They wanted to know about safety, fuel efficiency, noise, environmental benefits, availability, etc. CNG is significantly cleaner and you can save up to 50% on fueling costs. The facts speak for themselves.
It is becoming increasingly clear that there is a genuine enthusiasm and growing momentum behind natural gas vehicles. Some people drove hours just to see the bi-fuel truck. Others called us in the middle of a busy schedule, asking if we could stick around for an extra 30 minutes so that they could take a quick test-drive between meetings.
In the end, the Where in the World is Westport WiNG road trip was both enlightening and encouraging. We had an awesome time! Our only regret was that we couldn’t make it to all the places we wished we could have. There’s always next time… In the meantime, check out the pictures below.
And finally, thank you CNGnow for the station-finder app. It was a huge help in planning our route. In fact, we were able to make it all 700 miles without having to dip into our truck’s gasoline reserves at all. The refueling infrastructure isn’t where we would like it to be, but this is proof that it’s there and viable for many consumers.
To follow along with other things happening at Wesport, we’re on Twitter @WestportWiNG.
SOURCE – CNGNOW.com
Sunny Delight Beverages has put into service a fleet of three compressed natural gas vehicles for distribution in southern California, in markets including Los Angeles, Mira Loma, Carson and Riverside.
The move is expected to cut about 400,000 gallons of diesel fuel in 2012, and to cut well-to-wheel greenhouse gas by 23 percent versus diesel-powered engines.
Transportation management and logistics provider Transplace said that it executed a transportation plan that focused on keeping costs down for the beverage manufacturer. The companies have a five-year arrangement. Transplace manages the carriers and the fueling options within the network, and Glacier Transportation deployed the fleet.
A number of companies are testing a transition to CNG fleets. In January, AT&T ordered 1,200 Chevrolet Express CNG cargo vans for delivery to its service centers nationwide, in General Motors’ largest ever order of CNG vehicles. Refuse collection firm Waste Management announced a pilot program across four states to introduce natural-gas powered Rotopress waste collection trailers.
Also, Veolia ES Solid Waste revved up Indiana’s first fleet of CNG powered refuse trucks in April.
We can save you hundreds of thousands as well. Want a CNG fueling facility? Let us know – CNG@FenleyNicol.com