The nascent market for compressed natural gas vehicles (CNG) took another step forward as Seal Beach, CA-based Clean Energy Fuels Corp., a natural gas vehicle (NGV) fuel supplier, said that it will construct up to seven CNG fueling stations at waste management facilities across the country capable of fueling 30 refuse trucks a day.

The initiative will be done in partnership with waste management company Covanta Energy Corp. The CNG stations will be located within its waste management facilities.

“For years, Covanta has been an innovative leader in providing clean, renewable energy to the communities they serve,” said Raymond P. Burke, Clean Energy vice president for solid waste.

Clean Energy says the CNG-powered trucks will cut greenhouse gas usage by more than 20% and are quieter than their counterparts.

In addition, fleet operators will benefit from low CNG prices, between $1.50 and $3.00 a gallon compared to $4.00 a gallon for diesel. The cost savings exceed the premium of industrial NGVs over their diesel-powered counterparts in about two years (see Daily GPI, April 9, 2012). Covanta does not own or run refuse trucks. According to NGV Global data and NGI’s calculations, there were 123,000 NGVs in the United States in 2011.

The search for new uses for natural gas due to increased production has benefited the market for CNG. “The now very stable price of natural gas makes it very economical for fleet vehicles to switch to CNG,” Clean Energy spokesman Gary Foster told NGI. A few years ago natural gas-powered garbage trucks were rare, but 60% of newly purchased garbage trucks are natural gas-powered, Foster said.

It will take years for NGVs to become popular with noncommercial car owners because of a lack of fueling infrastructure. Clean Energy is considering making at least some of its new fuel stations open to the public. “We’ll make that decision as we move forward. It will depend on how accessible the facility is by road,” Foster said.

The first of the planned fueling stations will open later this month in Newark, NJ. The company hasn’t determined the location of the additional facilities. Foster would not release the initiative’s cost.

There are more than 100 publicly accessible and private CNG stations in operation. Clean Energy has partnered with a variety of other entities, such as truck manufacturer Navistar Inc. (see Daily GPI, Feb. 2, 2012). In October the company signed an agreement with the state of Virginia to expand its CNG infrastructure and increase the number of state and local government fleet vehicles that use CNG (see Daily GPI, Oct. 4, 2012).

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