Vehicles running on compressed natural gas – a cheaper and greener alternative to gasoline – are winning over U.S cities and businesses, but, as a whole, America is slow to embrace CNG power.
Waste Management of New Jersey has just opened a public CNG fueling station in Camden, NJ, and plans to convert about 45 garbage trucks, half its regional fleet, to the cleaner-burning fuel, according to a company press release. The move will help WM achieve its goals of reducing fleet emissions by 15 percent and increasing fuel efficiency by 15 percent by 2020.
“Our 45 new CNG trucks will reduce emissions equivalent to taking 3,500 gasoline-powered vehicles off the road,” said John Morris, New Jersey area vice president for WM.
Compressed natural gas, or CNG, is less expensive and results in a 30-to-40 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, according to EPA data. Prices run about one-third below the cost of gas and diesel, said Waste Management, and CNG trucks run 50 percent quieter than diesel trucks.
Ford Transit Connect taxi cabs running on compressed natural gas are rolling out in Chicago, which now boasts its own Clean Energy CNG filling station, and more will be coming soon to Los Angeles, St. Louis, Las Vegas and parts of Connecticut. Orders of Ford’s CNG Transit Connect taxis are expected to come from other areas of the country as well, including Philadelphia, says a company press release.
With more than 16,000 CNG vehicles produced, GM also calls itself a leader in CNG technology. As part of its 2011 line, GM presented the Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana Compressed Natural Gas option for fleet and commercial van customers.
CNG is sold in gasoline gallon equivalents, or GGEs, Current pricing at the Camden ‘Clean N’ Green Fuel station is about $1.759/GGE. According to WM, CNG is a domestically sourced fuel with stable supplies and more predictable long-term pricing.
Compressed natural gas offers many advantages, but converting to a CNG system can be prohibitively expensive due to the costs of adapting or replacing vehicles and creating a fueling infrastructure.
The technology has been in use as a transportation fuel since WWII, according to the website CNGnow. Use of CNG cars has grown about 30.6 percent per year worldwide since 2000, but growth in the U.S. during the same time period has been 3.7 percent. About 110,000 CNG vehicles are on the nation’s roads today.