The compressed natural gas (CNG) sector has seen no shortage of supporters, with continuing interest in new fleet orders, technology advancements in fuel tank design and governmental/utility initiatives, as witnessed at the recent Alternative Clean Transportation (ACT) Expo in Washington, DC.
Impco Automotive reported an order from AT&T to convert 650 Ford F-350 trucks to CNG as part of the communication company's $500 million-plus alternative fuel commitment (see NGI, March 16, 2009). In addition, Penske Truck Leasing ordered 100 CNG Freightliner Cascadia tractors powered by Cummins Westport's 11.9-liter ISX12 G engine. Florida-based Saddle Creek Corp. also has ordered 10 Freightiner Cascadia CNG tractors for its trucking fleet.
Penske plans to lease 75 of the new tractors and rent the remaining 25. "Many full-service truck leasing customers continue to evaluate using natural gas vehicles [NGV] within their truck fleets while others are quickly adopting the use of NGVs to meet their sustainability goals," said Executive Vice President Art Vallely. The company is "encouraged" by the growing interest its customers are showing in NGVs.
Saddle Creek is getting the Cascadia tractors with advanced aerodynamics, new aerodynamic back-of-the-cab fueling cylinders arrayed by Agility Fuel Systems, and Cummins Westport ISX12 G engine. At the ACT Expo, Agility promoted its back-of-the-cab design for Class 7 and 8 over-the-road tractors, which features three 26-inch diameter by 80-inch-long cylinders, collectively carrying 120 diesel gallon equivalents.
Meanwhile, officials in Dane County, WI, home to Madison, plan to convert over the next 10 years the county's entire 550-vehicle fleet to run on CNG. The county currently operates about 24 CNG-fueled vehicles.
In Oregon, NW Natural has asked the Oregon Public Utility Commission for approval to begin offering CNG fueling facilities to business fleet operators throughout the state. Portland-based NW Natural said the cost of the service would be paid by the individual customers using it. If approved, NW Natural would install, own and maintain CNG fueling equipment on business customers' property. The natural gas utility has received a growing number of requests from businesses that are interested in switching their fleets to CNG or expanding the number of fleet vehicles fueled by natural gas, a spokesperson said.
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