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Clean Energy Spurs Fleet's Conversion to NatGas

Fleet operator Raven Transport plans to transform its 500-truck fleet to run on liquefied natural gas (LNG), following the advice of oil billionaire and natural gas vehicle pioneer T. Boone Pickens.

The company Pickens founded, Clean Energy Fuels Corp., is supplying Raven with LNG and other help in making the transition.

Raven Transport COO Steve Silverman attributes his first move toward using natural gas for this truck fleet to a meeting a few years back with Pickens, who preached the combination of economic and environmental benefits from natural gas vehicles (NGV). As a result, Silverman has been working with Clean Energy and now has more than 180 units of his 500-truck fleet running on LNG.

Raven operates in the Southeast, Mid-Atlantic, Midwest and Northeast, it and plans to add an unspecified number of LNG trucks to its fleet in fiscal 2015.

Silverman has indicated to Clean Fuels that he intends to transition the entire Raven fleet to natural gas, a Clean Energy spokesperson told NGI Monday.

Along with the cost savings Raven is getting from its use of LNG compared to diesel or gasoline, the fleet operator has taken advantage of some of the LNG supplier's "custom financing solutions." For example, Clean Energy has provided fuel tanks for the LNG trucks that normally sell at a premium to diesel at discounted prices it has gained from deals it has with tank manufacturers.

"We are passing the savings along to customers, and the program so far has been very successful," the Clean Energy spokesperson said.

Silverman said he has been concerned about volatility in fuel prices. Thus, he was already looking for an alternative fuel when he encountered Pickens.

Raven began its LNG transition with 30 trucks operating out of Ohio, and then it used six more in Florida to see how the fuel performed in a hotter climate.

Separately, Pickens announced earlier this month that he was selling a "small portion" of his shares in Newport Beach, CA-based Clean Energy. That prompted Clean Energy co-founder and CEO Andrew Littlefair to clarify that the sale doesn't mean Pickens is pulling out of the NGV sector.

"He remains as bullish as ever on the company's future and the benefits of natural gas as a transportation fuel," Littlefair said. "Boone will continue to be our largest shareholder, an active board member, and a valuable energy expert for us to tap into."

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