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News Archive - May 2012

Golden Age Of Gas: How To Get There
May 30th, 2012 - The International Energy Agency (IEA) released a recent report suggesting that natural gas is on the cusp of entering a "golden age," but a number of factors must converge in order to maximize the market's potential. The report contends that the only way natural gas can flourish globally is through the full-scale development of "unconventional gas," such as shale gas, tight gas and coal-bed methane. However, some of the extraction methods - including hydraulic fracturing, or fracking - that are used to tap these unconventional gas sources have come under intense scrutiny in the U.S. and elsewhere. The IEA suggests that addressing this scrutiny head-on and developing responsible practices for producing unconventional gas are critical steps that stakeholders must take today. To guide this process, the group produced a list of seven "golden rules" to help usher in the golden age. READ MORE >

Cheap Natural Gas Prompts Energy Department to Soften Its Line on Fuel Cells
May 29th, 2012 - The Energy Department estimates that 95 percent of the United States’ hydrogen is produced from natural gas. The abundance of that contentious fossil fuel has revised the cost equation for fuel-cell vehicles. Even hydrogen skeptics like Energy Secretary Steven Chu are taking a second look. The department’s position on hydrogen, however, appears to be changing. “The development of America’s tremendous shale gas resources is also helping to reduce the costs of producing hydrogen and operating hydrogen fuel cells,” Bill Gibbons, a spokesman for the department, wrote in an e-mail. “The cost of hydrogen production alone can be cut in half based on earlier projections.” The department predicts hydrogen could be produced, compressed and dispensed at the pump for the gasoline-cost equivalent of less than $4 per gallon. READ MORE >

The Indianapolis 500 Spotlights the Potential of America's New Energy Reality
May 29th, 2012 - In a recent report on the Indianapolis 500 and the feasibility of alternative fuels, Brent Schutte, Market Strategist for Harris Private Bank, writes about the promising future of natural gas vehicles to cut costs for American families and racing teams. "Indy car drivers have embraced versions of alternative fuels and this season will mark the first year that cars will be burning E85 (ethanol) fuel," said Schutte. "The sights and sounds of race cars burning fuel to speed across the track in America's Heartland got us thinking about another American story, namely the increased natural gas and crude oil production that is occurring in many parts of the U.S.". Currently, the gallon gasoline equivalent of driving 500 miles for an Indianapolis resident using natural gas would equate to roughly $15. That's $40 cheaper than driving with traditional gasoline or nearly $1.250 in annual savings for the average family. READ MORE >

ACT Expo Reflects NGV Expansion
May 28th, 2012 - The 2012 Alternative Clean Transportation (ACT) Expo set record participation numbers and drew a slew of NGV exhibitors, reflecting a confluence of market factors driving industry growth. The expo, which took place May 15–17 in Long Beach, drew more than 2,500 people and was twice the size of the 2011 ACT Expo in terms of both attendance and exhibitors, says Erik Neandross, CEO of Gladstein, Neandross & Associates (GNA), which organized the event. Neandross says natural gas was the most prominent alternative fuel at the show due to a combination of factors: unprecedented growth in the natural gas fueling infrastructure, the growing number of OEMs who offer NGVs, and the abundance of conversion products on the market. “This is happening at the same time as continued high gasoline and diesel pricing and a shale gas revolution that has led to significantly increased production capacity and low, stable pricing,” Neandross says. “It’s all interrelated—each element helps to feed the others. This was all on display and a real focal point of ACT Expo 2012.” READ MORE >

Ramping Up to Use Natural Gas as a Motor Fuel
May 28th, 2012 - In the 1990s, natural gas was promoted as the motor fuel of the future. Utilities opened refueling stations and government agencies traded in their dirty diesel trucks for vehicles fueled with clean compressed natural gas (CNG). But some early adopters of natural-gas vehicles took an exit off the highway to the future. Now, with natural gas selling for half the cost of diesel because of new production from formations like Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale, government and industry are once again ramping up efforts to promote natural gas as a motor fuel. President Obama and Gov. Corbett, citing the desire to reduce reliance on imported oil and promote domestic natural gas production, have endorsed plans to subsidize the build-out of a natural-gas fueling infrastructure. Natural-gas advocates say they’re focusing their efforts on encouraging operators of big fleets of heavy vehicles and long-haul trucks to convert to natural gas. High-mileage consumers can more quickly recover the higher cost of natural gas vehicles with the savings from natural gas, which sells for about $2 for the equivalent of a gallon of gasoline. READ MORE >

Will Truckers Ditch Diesel?
May 24th, 2012 - Rising diesel costs last year forced Waste Management Inc. to charge customers an extra $169 million, just to keep its garbage trucks fueled. This year, the nation's biggest trash hauler has a new defensive strategy: it is buying trucks that will run on cheaper natural gas. In fact, the company says 80% of the trucks it purchases during the next five years will be fueled by natural gas. Though the vehicles cost about $30,000 more than conventional diesel models, each will save $27,000-a-year or more in fuel, says Eric Woods, head of fleet logistics for Waste Management. By 2017, the company expects to burn more natural gas than diesel. "The economics favoring natural gas are overwhelming," says Scott Perry, a vice president at Ryder Systems Inc., one of the nation's largest truck-leasing companies and a transporter for the grocery, automotive, electronics and retail industries. READ MORE >

More Cities Nationwide Take Measures to Boost Natural Gas Vehicles Use: Georgia, Wisconsin and California
May 23rd, 2012 - Thomasville’s City Council recently approved a recommendation from the Compressed Natural Gas committee to award to Wise Gas a contract in the amount of USD 301,113 for the construction of a CNG time-fill fueling station, whereas Milwaukee’s Common Council yesterday voted unanimously to authorize the city Department of Public Works to sell the clean fuel to the public at two CNG stations that were built for city garbage trucks. What is more, Fullerton was awarded grants to be used in green projects (both vehicles purchase and station construction). In Georgia, Thomasville’s authorities are planning to construct the CNG time-fill station as a part of an overall plan to convert the City’s fleet to natural gas where appropriate. Earlier this year, the City Council approved the purchase of four garbage trucks which will be fueled by compressed natural gas. Within the next three years, the City plans to convert all 12 of its garbage trucks to run on CNG, which is estimated to save approximately $200,000 annually in fuel costs to operate this fleet. READ MORE >

Where in the World is Westport™ WiNG?
May 21st, 2012 - Westport Innovations Inc., the global leader in natural gas engines, is taking its first natural gas pick-up truck on a road trip across the Eastern USA this week, from May 21 to 24. Driving entirely on compressed natural gas (CNG), a team from Westport Innovations will make the 700 mile drive in the brand new Westport™ WiNG powered bi-fuel Ford F-250 Super Duty truck. During stops in Cleveland, OH; Canton, OH; Pittsburgh, PA; and Pottstown, PA; the public will have the chance to view and drive this low carbon fuel vehicle. This will be the first opportunity for many people to see and drive this new product. In New York City, the Ford F-250 will be parked in Times Square. READ MORE >

More Convenience Stores Offering Natural Gas at Refueling Network
May 11th, 2012 - Last Thursday, Wisconsin-based Kwik Trip opened a CNG/LNG station in La Crosse and also plans to add this fueling option in Sturtevant this month as part of the privately held company's broader expansion into alternative energies. "It's the first of its kind in the entire United States because it offers many different fueling choices in one location for the general public," said Kwik Trip co-owner Steve Zietlow regarding La Crosse site, which sells 10 fuel varieties. La Crosse filling station was designed by GP Strategies, and includes one 15,000-gallon LNG storage tank, two LNG fuel dispensers and three dual hose CNG dispensers. The facility will serve Kwik Trip's fleet, which now includes 20 natural gas vehicles, private fleets, and vehicles using multiple or other alternative fuels. READ MORE >

Waste Management Adding Cleaner, Natural-Gas Vehicles
May 10th, 2012 - The iconic rumbling garbage truck may have met its match: natural gas. Waste Management on Friday will announce it is pushing forward on a nationwide plan to convert all of its 18,342 trucks from loud and smoky diesel engines to quieter and cleaner compressed natural gas-powered machines. The latest destination for the company's CNG trucks will be the Houston area, starting at a facility in Conroe where 80 trucks will be able to refuel with gas overnight. The Houston-based refuse collection giant is the latest in a line of major corporations, including UPS and AT&T, to expand their use of natural gas in fleet vehicles - convinced it is the cheapest and most environmentally friendly option to power their daily road operations. "The economics and payback of natural gas are so strong that it dwarfs any other technology," said Eric Woods, vice president of fleet and logistics for Waste Management. READ MORE >

Sunny Delight Beverages Rolls Out Green Fleet in Southern California
May 8th, 2012 - The drink manufacturer announced the successful implementation of compressed natural gas vehicles, which are expected to cut 400,000 gallons of diesel in 2012. Transplace, provider of transportation management services and logistics technology, is in charge of managing carriers and fueling options within network. The five-year arrangement transports Sunny Delight products to customers across the Southern California market to cities such as Los Angeles, Mira Loma, Carson and Riverside. To date, the program has met the company's goals; and long-term, Sunny Delight expects the transition from diesel to CNG for its fleet operations will result in substantially fewer greenhouse gas emissions and reduced transportation costs. READ MORE >

Westport Reports First Quarter Fiscal 2012
May 8th, 2012 - Westport Innovations Inc., the global leader in natural gas engines, today reported financial results for the first quarter ended March 31, 2012 and provided an update on operations. "The numbers are compelling," said David Demers, CEO of Westport Innovations. "Compared to the same period last year, Westport Light-Duty revenue was up 258%, Cummins Westport revenue was up 110%, Westport Heavy-Duty revenue was up 65%, and Weichai Westport revenue was up 49%. Customer interest is expanding rapidly, and we see an array of potential investment opportunities with our global partners. "Strong growth across all our business units and in all geographic regions continues to demonstrate the rapid emergence of natural gas as a significant fuel for transportation applications," added Demers. "We are at the start of a long wave of change in both energy and transportation and we believe Westport is well positioned to establish a leading position in this new industry." READ MORE >

Gassing Up with Natural Gas Might be in NEPA's Future
May 5th, 2012 - Instead of going to the pump to gas up vehicles, people may soon be going to the "valve" to fill up on a different type of gas -- compressed natural gas. Historically low prices for natural gas prompted some to revisit a fairly old technology -- compressed natural gas vehicles. "(In the U.S.) we don't even know that you can drive a vehicle on alternative fuels," said William Freeman, coordinator of corporate development for Chesapeake Energy. Even though the U.S. has the world's largest natural gas reserve, it has less than half a percent of the world's CNG vehicles. The greatest benefit of CNG vehicles will come to large, high-mileage fleets such as bus systems, trucking firms and waste haulers. With the gallon equivalent of natural gas at about $2, half the price of gasoline and diesel, interest is at a high point. But it needs a jump-start. READ MORE >

Natural Gas Fueling Station Being Built in LaSalle
May 4th, 2012 - Work began this week on a new alternative fuel addition at Pilot Flying J Travel Center in north La Salle. The station is also included in Clean Energy Fuel’s “America’s Natural Gas Highway” plan, which was released earlier this year. Clean Energy touts itself as “America’s largest provider of natural gas fuel for transportation.” Clean Energy’s plan calls for the development of 150 fueling stations spread throughout 33 states. Seventy of those stations, including the station in La Salle, are scheduled to open by the end of this year with the rest opening in 2013. Many will be located at existing Pilot Flying J Travel Centers. "Another amazing component of this car is its safety record," said Atmos Energy's Mike DeArmond. "Unlike the volatile combustion caused by gasoline leaks, natural gas will actually dissipate into the air in the event of an accident or tank rupture, which is especially important when it's on a NASCAR race track." READ MORE >

NASCAR Race Adds First CNG-Powered Pace Car
May 3rd, 2012 - Atmos Energy's 2012 Honda Civic will be leading a group of professional racers who are vying to become the next NASCAR "All-Star" on Saturday, May 5, at the grand opening of the Revolution Park Racing and Entertainment Complex, Louisiana. "It's an unbelievable opportunity to drive the first natural gas-powered pace car in a Nascar race," said Atmos Energy service technician turned pace-car driver Greg Martin. "Another amazing component of this car is its safety record," said Atmos Energy's Mike DeArmond. "Unlike the volatile combustion caused by gasoline leaks, natural gas will actually dissipate into the air in the event of an accident or tank rupture, which is especially important when it's on a NASCAR race track." READ MORE >

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