Tuesday, June 14, 2011

"The City Wire" Reports on CNG in the River Valley

From here:

Mike Callan and John Robben are optimistic that the admittedly small shift in demand in the Fort Smith region for compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles will blossom into a more robust market.
Fort Smith-based Arkansas Oklahoma Gas Corp. on Tuesday (June 7) held a formal grand opening of their CNG fueling station located in the AOG operations center (5030 S. S St.). It is the first public CNG fueling station in Arkansas. The public station is open open 24 hours, 7 days a week and is self-serve with a credit/debit card reader.

The event, which included smoked ribs for lunch, attracted a large crowd of elected officials, utility representatives, the media and area business owners interested in learning more about CNG use.
AOG workers, the media and others gather around the only public CNG fueling station in Arkansas. AOG officials held a formal opening Tuesday (June 4) to publicize the station.
AOG received permission in November 2008 from the Arkansas Public Service Commission to sell natural gas for vehicles. In approving the facility, the PSC praised AOG “for its efforts to facilitate and encourage the use of natural gas as an alternative to fueling vehicles by gasoline and diesel.”

Callan, president of AOG, said about 1,300 gasoline equivalent gallons have been sold during April and May.

“That’s not a lot, but it’s certainly more than just one vehicle. ... I’m happy with that start,” Callan said Tuesday.

The gasoline equivalent cost of compressed natural gas, based on recent natural gas commodity costs, is about $1.07 a gallon. Fuel mileage is equivalent, Callan said.

A CNG user buying 200 gallons of fuel a month will spend $214, while a gasoline vehicle owner with the same amount of fuel will spend — at $3.50 per gallon — $740. Annualized, that comes to a savings of $6,312, and CNG proponents also claim that natural gas motors require less maintenance.
Robben, general manager of Smith Chevrolet in Fort Smith, said in recent months he is hearing “a ton of interest” in CNG vehicles. With little to no marketing, he estimates about 20 potential customers interested in converting a light duty truck to CNG use.
“We’re sitting on go,” Robben said of the dealerships ability to convert vehicles.

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