CNG Truck Fleets Now Mainstream? NY Company Buys 15 CNG Trucks

Is this a sign of things to come? The “received wisdom” has been that compressed natural gas (CNG) used to power cars and trucks is more hope and wishful thinking than it is reality. But maybe, just maybe, the tide as now turned and CNG is more reality than it is hope. Case in point: Trillium CNG, a subsidiary of Integrys Energy Group Inc., announced last September that it will build a new CNG fueling station next door to Willow Run Foods in Kirkwood, NY. Yes, Kirkwood, NY is in MDN’s own backyard! Willow Run Foods is a large packaged foods company that delivers food to fast food restaurants in 14 East Coast-area states.

With trucks running to 14 different states, some of which run on CNG, you have to ask–how will they get home? They’ll have to fill up somewhere. Which means there are enough CNG fueling depots scattered around, at least for some of their regular runs, that CNG will work. Oh, and diesel fuel right now (in the Binghamton area) is $4.37 per gallon. The equivalent CNG is $2.60–so you can see why Willow Run has invested in 15 CNG rigs.
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OSU Tech/Money Backs Ohio Start-up Bringing CNG to Everyone

We have a chicken and egg problem with CNG (compressed natural gas) vehicles: you need vehicles with engines converted, or designed, to run on CNG, and you need a way to fuel up. Detroit is listening–they’re coming out with a flurry of new CNG vehicles this year, including the Ford F-150 pickup truck. The only thing holding it all back seems to be a way to keep the tank filled. Americans have always been of the mindset that you head on down to the local filling station or these days, convenience store, to fill ‘er up. Filling stations are slowly beginning to offer CNG (and along interstate highways, LNG for big rigs), but it’s not happening nearly fast enough.

Since you can burn the very same natural gas in your vehicle that you use to heat your home and cook with, wouldn’t it be great if there were a box you could hang on your garage wall that enables you to compress the gas from the local utility company to be used at home–just fill ‘er up at home? Wow, that would be awesome–and that’s just what an Ohio start-up company, using technology innovated at Ohio State University, is doing. With a $1 million investment from OSU, Simple-Fill is launching a very cool solution for businesses and homeowners that will enable them to use their existing natural gas hookup to fill up their CNG vehicles. Imagine never having to stop by the convenience store again (except to pick up a lottery ticket)…
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Energy Industry Leaders Gather at Platts Forum in NYC

One week ago, MDN editor Jim Willis attended the Platts Global Energy Outlook Forum in New York City. The Forum, an annual event that attracts the titans of the worldwide energy industry, was held at the swanky Waldorf Astoria Hotel. Although Jim has been traveling to NYC for years and prides himself on his ability to navigate Manhattan on the subway, every now and again he botches it–like this time. So he ended up walking an extra 6-7 city blocks after getting off at the wrong stop (doh!). But that’s OK. It was a brisk day and the walk did him good.

Rather than get on the ungodly 3:10 am bus from Binghamton to NYC, Jim elected to ride the 6:10 am bus, which was late arriving at the Port Authority due to traffic at the Lincoln Tunnel. So he missed the first session and joined the second session shortly after it had begun. But wow, what a session it was! Below Jim shares his notes from the session “Switching, Ditching and Bridging Fuels,” his notes and impressions from the lunch keynote address by DOE Sec. Ernest Moniz, and his notes from the afternoon session titled, “Midstream Gathers Momentum”. Jim got to hear some of the biggest names in energy. It was all a bit heady for a “small time” natural gas blogger with an attitude…
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21 LNG Fueling Stations Coming to NY in Next 5 Years, Maybe

Recently MDN brought you the story that New York State is the only state in the union that does not allow liquefied natural gas (LNG) storage and fueling stations (see LNG Storage/Fueling Stations Latest Anti-Drilling Target in NY). Such facilities were banned after a tragic accident at a Staten Island LNG facility killed 40 workers in the early 1970s. Wacko anti-drillers oppose building new ones because, well, they’re wacko. Calmer heads, however have prevailed and the Dept. of Environment Conservation expects to finalize new regulations early next year to allow construction of LNG storage/fueling facilities that can super-cool and store natural gas in a liquefied state.

Why is it important that NY get with the program? Why do we need LNG anyway? Because entire trucking fleets–like that of UPS–are converting from diesel to LNG because it’s cleaner burning and cheaper. LNG is a true win/win, regardless of what the ninny nanny naysayers say. Once the new regs are in place, the DEC estimates NY will see 21 new LNG facilities built over the next five years…
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First-Ever Ford F-150 CNG/LPG Model Roles Off Assembly Line

This not technically a Marcellus/Utica story, but it certainly will impact the northeast and natural gas supplies in years to come. Ford announced last week the very first 2014 Ford F-150 truck, the best selling truck ever, has just rolled off the assembly line in Kansas City–and it has a CNG/LPG option! In fact, Ford will offer eight models for the 2014 model year and says they are on track to sell 15,000 CNG vehicles. MDN previously alerted you that Chevrolet is launching a CNG version for one of their most popular sedans–the Chevy Impala–next summer (2015 model year). Is this the dawning of the natural gas vehicle renaissance for consumers? We sure hope so.

The exciting Ford announcement from last week:
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MDN Digs FC’s NatGas Vehicle Whitepaper – You Will Too

Need to get a really good handle on what’s happening right now in the natural gas vehicles (NGV) market? Oh, and please throw in your best thinking on what will happen over the next 12 months? We have the answer. FC Business Intelligence, a UK-based conference and events company–knows a thing or two about the natural gas market. They’ve been hosting must-attend natgas industry events for quite a while, including a yearly event on NGV. In advance of next year’s event, the 3rd Natural Gas Vehicles USA (June 11-13 in Houston, TX), FC Business Intelligence has authored a 44-page white paper on NGVs in the US–a sort of “state of play” for the NGV market.

MDN downloaded the white paper (see it below). It’s chock-full of great information. This is not a generic-lightly-gloss-over-warmed-up-rehash-of-other-information treatment. There’s meat in this paper–serious research–and it’s well worth your time to read it if you have an interest in NGVs and what will be one of the most important sources of demand for natural gas in the coming years. MDN has chronicled how fleets, like that of UPS, are dumping diesel and changing to LNG (liquefied natural gas) and CNG (compressed natural gas). Problem is, where do NGVs fill up on either CNG or LNG? Where are there plants (supply) in the US that create LNG? It’s all in this white paper, and more…
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PA DEP Sec. Abruzzo Announces Winners of $3M in CNG Grants

Part of the Pennsylvania Act 13 law, passed in early 2012, is a provision called an “impact fee” collected from Marcellus drillers (ultimately from landowners, because fees and taxes are always passed down the line). The first year the fee was collected it brought in over $200 million. The so-called fee is really 60% fee and 40% tax, as we’ve written about many times before. Why? Because 60% of the money collected stays in the communities impacted by drilling–for use with first responders, roads, etc. The other 40% is what MDN calls “walking around money”–money that’s spent by politicians in Harrisburg to curry favor with voters (i.e. vote buying). A lot of that money goes to southeastern PA (Philly area) where there is no drilling–but such was the sleazy political price to be paid in order to pass the legislation. Yes it stinks–but it is what it is.

If there’s any good use for a teeny tiny sliver of the 40% walking around money, it happened yesterday in Scranton, PA, where the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) Sec. Chris Abruzzo was on hand at the Cabot Oil & Gas’ “CNG Celebration” event at Johnson College (see our companion story today about the event). Abruzzo was there to announce the list of grant winners who will share in $3 million of Act 13 money to purchase, refit or supply filling stations for vehicles to run on compressed natural gas (CNG). By handing out this seed money, Gov. Tom Corbett hopes to encourage more companies and organizations to switch to cheaper and much less polluting natural gas as a power source. Below is the DEP announcement and list of winners of this year’s grant. The DEP will be back next year with even more money to award. They start accepting applications on Saturday…
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Cabot’s Big CNG Celebration at Johnson College in Scranton, PA

Yesterday Cabot Oil & Gas held a “CNG Celebration” at Johnson College in Scranton, PA. Unfortunately MDN could not be on hand to help celebrate. However, we do have a couple of stories to bring you from that event.

The purpose of the event was several-fold: announce Johnson College’s curriculum expansion with new courses in compressed natural gas (CNG) technology and eventually a certification (with financial and technical assistance from Cabot); PA DEP Sec. Chris Abruzzo was on hand to announce $3 million in grants to businesses and organizations to purchase or retrofit vehicles to run CNG (see our companion story today); welcome the Marcellus Shale Coalition’s new executive director, David Spigelmyer; and show off some impressive big trucks and other vehicles running CNG. “Celebration” is an appropriate word that about covers it!…
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PA University First to Operate CNG-Powered Commuter Trolley

We certainly hope this portends a trend. Lock Haven University (Clinton County, PA) is the first PA institution of higher learning to have its very own compressed natural gas (CNG)-powered commuter trolley which is now scooting students hither and yon around town. Radically lower air emissions, way cheaper to operate–what’s not to like? All thanks to cheap, abundant, fracked Marcellus Shale gas.

Ding ding. All aboard!…
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Chesapeake Axes CNG Vehicle Program Too :-(

It seems that Chesapeake CEO Doug Lawler’s ax-wielding will affect more than just the company’s bottom line–it may affect all of us. The brisk pace of layoffs at the company continues (see God, Veggies & Bees – What’s Next on the Chesapeake Chopping Block?). Sadly, one of the programs deeply affected by these reductions is the division set up to grow usage of compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles by average consumers.

Chesapeake has been one of the leaders in producing technology to make it possible for consumers to “fill ‘er up” with CNG. However, the company’s CNG division has now also come under the budget ax, which means retail CNG efforts in this country will, at least for a time, be “substantially diminished”…
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New Trend? LNG for Domestic Transportation Bursts on the Scene

Is LNG used for domestic transportation in the U.S. about to take off in a big way? We’re not yet sure, but one thing is for sure: there are a number of companies investing in and talking about just that. MDN ran another LNG story today about a new initiative from GDF SUEZ called the advanceLNG Project (see Potential New Market for Marcellus/Utica Gas: LNG for Use in U.S.). And then–seeming out of nowhere–another LNG story. Boone Pickens’ Clean Energy Fuels company is partnering with with Ferus Natural Gas Fuels and GE to build “micro LNG” plants in five states, including Ohio.

So, what’s a micro LNG plant? We explain…
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Cabot Launches CNG Fueling Station in NE PA

MDN editor Jim Willis (that’s me) had the pleasure of a late summer/early autumn drive from Binghamton to Dimock, PA yesterday. I attended the official opening of Cabot’s compressed natural gas (CNG) facility near Dimock. On hand for the ceremony were not only officials from Cabot, but also local politicians, a rep from the state DEP, local colleges and others.

George Stark, Cabot’s chief spokesman and director of external affairs, kicked off the event by calling the Marcellus Shale in Susquehanna County (the only place in PA they drill), a “generational” shale play. He said “production here is just prolific” and that what Cabot and others are doing in Susquehanna County is “changing the world.” His comments may seem like hyperbole, but indeed they are not…
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Range Rolls Out New Fleet of CNG Trucks in SW PA

Range Resources is practicing what it preaches–or rather consuming what it produces. Yesterday at a ceremony at Range’s regional HQ in Southpointe (near Pittsburgh), the company showed off a new fleet of Dodge and Chevy pickup trucks that run on compressed natural gas (CNG). With the new trucks added, Range now operates 100 of them out of their Southpointe operation. With CNG prices running at the gasoline equivalent of around $2 per gallon, Range says the trucks will pay for themselves within two years due to the low price of using CNG.

According to the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection, by the end of this year there will be 100 CNG fueling stations across PA. More and more Pennsylvanians are interested in converting to CNG vehicles…
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New IEA Report: NatGas in Transportation About to “Take Off”

The International Energy Agency (IEA) today released their Medium-Term Gas Market Report (MTGMR), in which they say U.S. natural gas production will accelerate from 2014 through 2018 as higher prices spur drilling and infrastructure expansion brings more shale supplies to market. There are a number of interesting tidbits in the study (see a summary and slide show embedded below).

Among the predictions in the report is that natural gas is about to take off in a major way as a transportation fuel, making a serious dent in oil: “Thanks to abundant shale gas in the United States and amid more stringent environmental policies in China, gas is expected to do more to slow oil demand growth than electric vehicles and biofuels combined.”

The IEA press release announcing the latest MTGMR:
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NE Garbage Trucks Making the Change from Diesel to NatGas

The nonprofit organization Energy Vision published a new 72-page report yesterday titled “Tomorrow’s Trucks: Leaving the Era of Oil Behind” (full copy embedded below) which looks at how the “refuse sector” (i.e. garbage trucks) in the Northeast are making the change to clean-burning natural gas. For example, in New Jersey there were no natural gas garbage trucks five years ago, but today there are more than 180, according to Chuck Feinberg, chairman of the New Jersey Clean Cities Coalition.

The report chronicles the change taking place and takes a close look at New York City, Long Island and New Jersey and the efforts underway in each of those areas.
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Envelope Please: Winners of Shale Gas Innovation Contest are…

For the second year running, the Ben Franklin Technology Partners’ Shale Gas Innovation & Commercialization Center selects three winners from a field of 12 entrants to award a $25,000 prize in its Shale Gas Innovation Contest–a contest that recognizes startups and small businesses and gives them visibility and encouragement for their efforts.

MDN previously highlighted this year’s entrants, particularly because we’re acquainted with one of them (see REV LNG, 11 Others Finalists in Shale Gas Innovation Contest for the entire list of this year’s entrants). We won’t keep you waiting any longer. The envelope please! This year’s three winners are…
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