The natural gas marketing unit of Delaware-based Chesapeake Utilities Corp. (CUC) and Wise Gas Inc. said Wednesday they plan to jointly develop a series of compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling stations in Florida and along the East Coast to serve both municipal and private-sector fleets.

CUC's Peninsula Energy Services Co. (PESCO) would work with Wise on sourcing opportunities to build the fueling facilities. No financial details were disclosed.

Wise business development consultant Jeff Greene, who has worked with the company since 2008 on five CNG fueling stations in Florida, is to serve as the project leader. According to CUC, Greene was instrumental in a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) decision to approve Wise as a small-volume manufacturer of bi-fuel conversion kits for vehicles more than two years old. Greene also is the Florida state leader for the T. Boone Pickens Plan to create a national "natural gas highway."

The CNG business is gaining "traction" nationally, and it has evolved rapidly during the past four years, Greene noted.

Given the price, environmental and national security issues, CUC and Wise officials are convinced that natural gas is capable of supplanting conventional fuels in many fleet applications, said PESCO General Manager Bill Hancock. No specific amounts or station limits are attached to the joint partnership, Hancock told NGI.

Hancock said the partners are convinced that natural gas can replace some of the estimated 14 million barrels of oil burned daily in the United States for vehicle fuel. "It is both much cleaner and significantly cheaper than these other liquid fuels," he said. "There has never been a better time for the United States to break its dependence on foreign oil."

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