By: Greg Moon – OSU Community Development Extension Educator, Wyandot County
The cost-saving benefits that compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles can offer to Ohio businesses continues to increase as the amount of CNG fueling sites spreads geographically across the state. While the conversion of vehicle fleets and purchase of new CNG vehicles appears costly up front, more and more Ohio businesses with a heavy transportation component are beginning to realize the opportunity that low natural gas prices present to their bottom line.
In November, Kalmbach Feeds opened the first CNG fueling station in rural Northwest Ohio. The facility, designed and constructed by TruStar Energy of California, will support Kalmbach’s new CNG-powered feed distribution trucks as well as current fleet vehicles that the company will convert to a dual fuel, diesel/CNG configuration within the next 5 years. Located adjacent to two major highways, the station will be open to the public as well. Kalmbach’s recent ribbon-cutting follows in the path of other large Ohio employers who have realized the benefits that CNG can provide; such as Smith Dairy of Orville. Of the company’s 175 trucks, 26 currently are CNG or dual fuel CNG units. Smith Dairy has plans for an additional 16 dual fuel systems in 2014 (Smith Dairy, 2013). Like Kalmbach Feeds, Smith also constructed and operates its own public CNG fueling station.
Proposed legislation may also provide a boost to individuals and businesses interested in making a switch to CNG powered vehicles. House Bill 336 would provide grants and tax incentives based on vehicle weights for gas-powered vehicle conversions and new purchases of CNG powered vehicles to public (non-profit) entities as well as both private and commercial users (Shields, 2013).
While the fuel economy of a CNG powered vehicle may not outweigh that of a standard unleaded or diesel fuel vehicle in some cases, the natural gas rich Marcellus and Utica shale plays have helped to keep the price of CNG around $2.00 per GGE (Gallon of Gasoline Equivalent) in Ohio. The clean burning nature of this lighter-than-air fuel also offers decreased maintenance costs and prolonged engine sustainability. For Ohio businesses, these low cost and environmentally-friendly advantages offered by CNG coupled with the increasing number of CNG fueling stations spread across the state and the U.S. will continue to enhance the fuel’s viability and attractiveness.
Shields, L. (3 December 2013). Seminar to boost CNG vehicles. Salem News. Retrieved from http://www.salemnews.net/page/content.detail/id/569328/Seminar-to-boost-CNG-vehicles.html?nav=5007
Smith Dairy. (15 November 2013). Smith Dairy recognized with natural gas vehicle (NGV) achievement award. [Press release]. Retrieved from http://www.perishablenews.com/index.php?article=0033019