Reinforcing a growing trend toward dual natural gas transportation fueling outlets, a Los Angeles industrial suburb, the City of Commerce, last Monday opened a fueling station offering both compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG). The new term is LCNG fueling, according to Seal Beach, CA-based Clean Energy Fuels Inc., which is providing the LNG and operating/maintenance at the station under contract to the city.

After 10 years of planning, the City of Commerce built the facility and will own it, principally for the use of its CNG-powered fleet of seven transit and four smaller buses. The LNG option is being included because there are a number of commercial trucking fleets in the area that run on that version of natural gas transportation.

LNG trucks from the Long Beach/Los Angeles ports, natural gas-powered refuse vehicles and private and municipal natural gas fleet vehicles will use the station, a Clean Energy spokesperson said.

In the LCNG facilities the fuel is trucked in as LNG and for Commerce that will mean about three deliveries a month, the Clean Energy spokesperson said. Some of the regasified LNG is compressed into the CNG supplies, the spokesperson said. In either gaseous or liquid state, Clean Energy is selling hundreds of millions of gallons-equivalent of natural gas for transportation in its growing national network of stations.

In a separate development for natural gas transportation last Thursday a regional government association began leveraging state and federal grants totaling nearly $20 million with a major national trucking company, Ryder System Inc., to put hundreds of added CNG and LNG rigs on the road.

It is being dubbed as the first-ever heavy duty natural gas-powered truck rental and leasing project, bankrolled by a combination of Ryder, a $9.9 million U.S. Department of Energy grant and a $9.3 million stipend from the California Energy Commission.

The state and federal alternative energy vehicle technology programs will allow the San Bernardino Associated Governments (SANBAG) to work with Ryder to put 202 heavy duty CNG or LNG-powered trucks into the truck operator's Southern California operations, a network of 1,200 customers representing more than 6,000 heavy duty trucks.

In this case the customers will access the clean fuel heavy duty vehicles through short-term rentals and long-term leases, or through what Ryder calls its dedicated logistics services.

Earlier this year Clean Energy released its plans to build LNG refueling stations throughout the region along the main trucking corridors between Los Angeles, San Diego and points to the east in the Inland Empire of Riverside and San Bernardino counties. A backbone of hub LNG stations is envisioned, the company said.

For the City of Commerce the new station is not only an advance for fleet transportation but also what city officials see as an important means to reducing air pollution in the city and surrounding southeast Los Angeles County communities. The fueling facility is being built with future expansion in mind, a Clean Energy spokesperson said, noting that there are currently four CNG hoses and one LNG outlet, but both numbers can and will be expanded as the use of natural gas in vehicles continues to grow.

"The station was really sized to get things going, and then as the demand picks up in the future, the city can put in additional infrastructure," said Derek Turbide, a Clean Energy spokesperson. Turbide also said there are a number of existing stations being converted into LCNG dual fueling facilities.

Some of the largest infrastructure for natural gas transportation fueling has been established at the combined Long Beach/Los Angeles ports where there are currently six LNG dispensers and three CNG outlets.

The Southern California Association of Governments and an environmental consulting firm are also involved in the development of the SANBAG-Ryder program. Now that the contracts are completed and the federal and state grants in place, Ryder will take the lead in ordering the first 70 LNG/CNG trucks and in constructing two new LCNG fueling stations in the cities of Orange and Rancho Cucamonga, CA. Ryder also plans to begin upgrading its existing maintenance facilities where the newly purchased natural gas trucks will be kept.

The project proponents said the when fully implemented, the project will displace more than 1.3 million gallons of diesel now burned annually with 100% domestically produced low-carbon LNG and CNG . "It will also contribute to the maintenance and creation of more than 400 U.S. green automotive jobs located in regions of the country that have been the hardest hit from the current economic downturn," said a project spokesperson.

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