Posts Tagged ‘natural-gas vehicles’

MSC Study Adds Momentum to Nationwide Drive for Natural Gas Vehicles

NGV Roadmap Sets Strategy for More Economic and Environmental Benefits, Greater Energy Security

Canonsburg, PA – In Harrisburg, Washington, DC, and across the country, policymakers and other key stakeholders are engaged in an ongoing conversation about expanding the use of low-cost, clean-burning natural gas – specifically through consumer and commercial natural gas vehicles (NGVs).  Last week, President Obama noted that, [T]he potential for natural gas is enormous,” while detailing the benefits of NGVs.  And yesterday, several Pennsylvania state lawmakers introduced a legislative package aimed to encourage and promote NGVs, demonstrating yet again the vast potential of natural gas from the Marcellus Shale.

In the midst of this robust conversation, the Marcellus Shale Coalition (MSC) this week unveiled a major study – A Roadmap For Pennsylvania Jobs, Energy Security and Clean Air – laying out a strategy to position Pennsylvania as a national model for NGV use and adding further momentum to the ongoing NGV discussion.  The Roadmap examines one of the many long-term benefits associated with the responsible development of the Marcellus, in both the natural gas and transportation sectors, and provides a common sense, workable pathway to achieve a host of benefits, such as lower-cost fuel, more robust job creation, expanded energy security, and a cleaner environment for the region and nation.  Following is just a sampling of the recent media coverage of the MSC’s Roadmap and the surrounding NGV policy developments:

  • Inquirer reports on Pennsylvania Clean Transportation Corridor. “The Marcellus Shale Coalition, the trade group promoting the state’s booming natural gas industry, on Tuesday released a study it called a ‘road map’ to converting vehicles to natural gas by constructing a chain of refueling stations along Pennsylvania’s Interstate highways.  The coalition’s study calls for spending up to $208 million over five years to build a ‘Pennsylvania Clean Transportation Corridor’ of 17 new refueling stations and to subsidize 850 heavy-duty natural gas vehicles, or NGVs.  The new refueling stations would supplement an existing network of 24 stations that supply compressed natural gas to fleet operators, including agencies like the Lower Merion school district, which has converted 72 of its 112 buses to natural gas in the last 20 years.” (Philadelphia Inquirer, 4/6/11)
  • Post-Gazette highlights potential for public and private cooperation. “GOP lawmakers unveiled their revamped seven-bill package Wednesday, aimed at encouraging businesses, transit systems and other organizations to switch their dirtier diesel engines to natural gas. The measures, dubbed collectively as ‘Marcellus Works,’ would offer $47.5 million in tax credits, grants and loans to subsidize the cost of new natural gas vehicles and fueling stations…  The drilling industry is promoting a similar message, releasing its own report earlier this week calling for 17 new fueling stations along the state’s major interstates.  Kathryn Klaber, president of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, said the GOP measures fit well with their goal of both public and private investment: ‘They reinforce the fact that it’s going to take a lot of different players.’” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 4/7/11)
  • Citizens Voice notes consumer, environmental benefits of NGVs. “‘The foundation of a fueling infrastructure needs to come from the fleet vehicles – the long-haul trucks and the come-back-to-base types of trucks,’ [MSC President Kathryn Z. Klaber] said, adding that the envisioned filling stations would be open to the public ‘so the early adopters on the personal vehicle side will have the ability to fuel their vehicles.’  The coalition of natural gas operators drilling in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale wants to grow the market for the gas they produce, but the report details how the expanded use of natural gas in vehicles has broader benefits.  Natural gas costs less than diesel or gasoline, can be sourced from the state rather than foreign oil reserves and creates fewer smog-producing pollutants or greenhouse gas emissions.” (Wilkes-Barre Citizens Voice, 4/6/11)
  • Tribune-Democrat cites cost savings of clean-burning natural gas. “[Natural gas] has the potential for significant savings to all levels of government, businesses and motorists.  Compressed natural gas could sell for $1.90 per gallon, according to information provided by the coalition.  Diesel fuel currently costs about $3.85 per gallon.  ‘More efficiently using American natural gas as a transportation fuel offers a clear, clean and cost-effective alternative to address air quality challenges while providing a reliable energy source to fuel economic growth,’ Klaber said.” (Johnstown Tribune-Democrat, 4/6/11)

An overview of the MSC’s Roadmap For Pennsylvania Jobs, Energy Security and Clean Air is available here.

New Study Outlines Pennsylvania’s Clean Transportation Roadmap

Natural Gas Vehicles: A Clear, Cleaner, Cost-Effective Alternative

Canonsburg, PA – While it is widely known that the Marcellus Shale’s abundant, clean-burning natural gas resources represent one of the world’s largest energy reserves, a new study — Roadmap for Pennsylvania Jobs, Energy Security and Clean Air — examines one of the many long-term benefits associated with the responsible development of the Marcellus, in both the natural gas and transportation sectors.

The Roadmap provides a common sense, workable pathway to achieve a host of benefits, such as lower-cost fuel, more robust job creation, expanded energy security, and a cleaner environment for the region and nation. Specifically, the study — sponsored by the Marcellus Shale Coalition (MSC) — focuses on expanding Natural Gas Vehicles (NGVs), which has the potential to provide Pennsylvania with a unique opportunity to achieve a more economically and environmentally sustainable future.

“Leveraging our region’s clean-burning, job-creating resources from the Marcellus Shale, through smarter technologies, will generate huge economic and environmental benefits for Pennsylvania businesses, consumers, and public transportation systems,” said Kathryn Klaber, president and executive director of the MSC.

Added Klaber: “More effectively using American natural gas as a transportation fuel offers a clear, clean and cost-effective alternative to address air quality challenges, while providing a reliable, homegrown energy source to fuel economic growth. New sources of domestic energy, specifically shale gas, provides this region and our nation with a transformative opportunity. As shown in The Roadmap, the transportation sector will certainly be a part of that transformation.”

MSC members Chesapeake Energy Corporation, EQT Production Company, Range Resources, and UGI Energy Services co-sponsored the study.

“Natural gas continues to prove it will play a significant and necessary role in the Commonwealth’s – and the nation’s – clean-energy future,” noted Barbara Sexton, Director of Governmental Affairs for Chesapeake Energy Corporation.  “This Roadmap is a definitive guide for creating a profitable, sustainable and growing market for vehicles powered by natural gas.”

“This project is an important and effective first step toward achieving energy security for our country and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” said David Ross EQT’s Director of Technical Marketing and Business Development. “The cost savings and environmental benefits of transitioning to NGV’s illustrated in the report underscore the importance of natural gas to this country’s energy future.”

Dan Cotherman, Manager of Business Development for Range Resources, noted, “Pennsylvania consumers have a significant stake in the future of clean-burning, abundant natural gas, and Range Resources supports this Roadmap to expand and enhance the use of this resource. Developing forward-thinking and innovative uses of natural gas in this way will further secure our energy future and solidify benefits for the entire Commonwealth.”

“UGI Utilities, Inc. supports the MSC’s Roadmap for Pennsylvania Jobs, Energy Security and Clean Air report which provides key recommendations for the transportation sector to transition to a cleaner transportation future,” said Anthony Cox, Director of Marketing for UGI Utilities, Inc. “Reducing our reliance on one fuel source with a lower cost, lower emitting, Pennsylvania produced-alternative, will create jobs and further stimulate our region’s economy.”

The Roadmap, available online HERE, projects a more than $200 million investment in the Commonwealth’s economy while yielding other benefits, including:

  • A reduction in annual fuel costs for Pennsylvania fleet operators of $9.2 million – savings that can then be reinvested into their businesses, personnel hiring, and the overall Pennsylvania economy.
  • A direct impact on more than 1,300 Pennsylvania jobs.
  • A reduction of nitrogren oxides (NOx) emissions by 702 tons, particulate matter (PM) emissions by 14.5 tons, and greenhouse gas emissions by 21,000 metric tons each year.

An overview of The Roadmap is available HERE.

Fueling up with natural gas

By JOSEPH B. WHITE The Wall Street Journal

First it was ethanol made from corn. Then ethanol made from twigs and stems and trash. Then, the future was going to belong to hydrogen. Now, the alternative fuel flavor of the month in Washington is natural gas.

You may know this already, thanks to vigorous public-relations campaigns mounted to promote natural gas as a vehicle fuel by energy billionaire T. Boone Pickens and allies such as Chesapeake Energy Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Aubrey McClendon. Mr. Pickens touts natural gas as a fuel for cars as part of his broad “Pickens Plan” to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil.

Mr. Pickens, in a television ad, summarizes his case for using natural gas as a vehicle fuel in nine words: “It’s cleaner. It’s cheaper. It’s abundant. And it’s ours.”

Nothing is ever that simple in the energy business. A lot of natural gas isn’t “ours.” It belongs to the same companies that currently supply us with oil, or to big gas utilities such as Ch esapeake. But Mr. Pickens is correct when he says that natural gas is abundant in the U.S. Recent advances in drilling technology have made it possible to exploit gas reserves that weren’t economical to tap before, such as the Marcellus Shale in the Appalachian region of the Northeastern U.S.

The macro problem that Mr. Pickens and gas industry executives need to solve is what to do with all that new gas – assuming it becomes available as forecast. Already, natural-gas prices have slumped about 40 percent since May. Grabbing some of petroleum’s more than 90 percent share of the U.S. vehicle fuels market is a smart strategy for the gas industry.

The question for consumers who don’t own shares in natural-gas companies is whether a compressed-gas fueled vehicle is a better deal than some other green technology, or the status quo.

The only natural gas car on the U.S. market right now is a Honda Civic GX. Honda Motor Co. let me borrow one for a few days to road t est the NGV (natural-gas vehicle) lifestyle.

Driving the Civic GX isn’t different than driving a standard, petrol-fueled car. My white test car had an automatic transmission and the usual bells and whistles. The adventure of driving a natural-gas fueled Civic only starts when the fuel gauge gets close to empty – and that happens fairly quickly because the car’s range is only 200 to 220 miles between fill-ups.

At this point, you’ll need an Internet connection to help you find a public natural-gas vehicle refueling station in your metro area. If you are fortunate will you find one in your ZIP code, because there are only about 1,100 natural-gas refueling stations in the U.S. The closest one to my house was about 18 miles away at a depot owned by the City of Ann Arbor.

The unmanned refueling station had an imposing looking pump with two hoses that dispensed compressed gas at different pressures. The Civic’s manual explained that I should use the one marked 360 0 pounds per square inch. Behind the Civic GX’s fuel door is a nozzle fitting. After a couple of tries, I got the fitting from the high-pressure hose properly locked on, and threw a lever on the pump to “On” to start the flow.

I realize it was irrational and techno-phobic to worry that I would somehow overfill the compressed gas tank on board the car and turn my Civic into an explosive device. Let’s say that I was nervous enough that I had done something wrong that when the pump shut off automatically, I was relieved, even though the system had only refilled the tank to the half-full mark. Mr. Pickens could add another element to his plan: It will create jobs for filling station attendants who can help nervous natural-gas newbies.

On the positive side, my natural gas was about half the price of the equivalent quantity of gasoline – $1.94 a gallon.

The Honda Civic GX illustrates almost perfectly the chicken-and-egg problems besetting efforts to wean personal transportation in the U.S. away from petroleum fuels.

Because there aren’t many natural-gas refueling stations, Honda only builds a couple of thousand natural-gas Civics a year, and other car makers are reluctant to push the technology to consumers. Because there are so few natural-gas vehicles, outside of commercial or government fleets, fuel retailers don’t have much incentive to sink $500,000 to $750,000 into a natural-gas refilling station capable of handling cars as rapidly as a conventional gas station can, says Richard Kolodziej, president of NGV America, a Washington advocacy group that represents about 100 natural-gas companies and other enterprises with a stake in promoting natural gas as a motor fuel.

Because there is little demand for natural-gas vehicles, the ones that are available come with a hefty price premium, in part because their fuel tanks aren’t molded plastic, but are instead heavily engineered, high-pressure tanks. A Civic GX lists for ab out $24,590, compared to about $17,760 for the mid-range Civic LX on which it is based. Tax credits can offset as much as $4,000 of that price. And in some states, natural-gas cars can use high-occupancy vehicle express lanes – a major perk for time-pressed commuters.

The Civic GX achieves about 24 miles to the gallon in the city and 36 on the highway, when its consumption is converted to gasoline equivalent miles per gallon, Honda says. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates the GX’s annual fuel costs at $884 a year, compared to $1,987 a year for a petroleum-fueled Civic. That indicates a payback, after the tax credit, of about 2½ years on the premium over the standard car.

One problem with the natural-gas Civic, Mr. Kolodziej concedes, is that it doesn’t look any different than a normal car. It doesn’t advertise the owner’s green cred the way a Prius does. “Where’s the sex in that?” He asks. “The sex comes in when you fill up for $10.”

Mr. Kolodzie j says he refuels his Civic GX using a Phill home-fueling system. This costs about $5,000 and allows a natural-gas vehicle owner to refuel overnight with gas from the lines running into the house. (A $1,000 tax credit is available for the Phill system.) But the hardware in Mr. Kolodziej’s garage isn’t all that’s different. He also says he doesn’t care that the vehicle has a limited range and takes hours to refill using the home refueling device.

“I go to work. I go to the store,” he says. “That’s what 99 percent of people do. Americans want to be able to drive to California tomorrow. They won’t.”

Mr. Kolodziej would say that. But he’s right. A switch to natural-gas cars would require a change of attitudes and expectations both by consumers and car makers. More of us would need to accept owning a car that can do one job – commuting and running errands in fewer than 200 miles a day. It’s the same fundamental proposition behind plug-in hybrids such as the Chevrolet Volt or plug-in Prius.

The big hurdle for natural-gas vehicles is that somebody will need to invest substantial sums in a consumer refueling infrastructure. The gas industry was hoping that somebody would be Uncle Sam. Unfortunately, Congress just found out last week it may have to spend $700 billion salvaging the global financial system. That could put big federal subsidies for natural-gas cars – and a lot of other worthy ideas – on the back burner.


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Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.

Posted At: Times Leader