Friday, April 8, 2011

Industry Wants Help Building Nat Gas Stations

Within five years, a large number of motor vehicles in Pennsylvania could run entirely on natural gas according to a plan from the Marcellus Shale Coalition.

The proposal calls for $200 million to help build 17 more natural gas fueling stations to add to the current 18 stations across the state. The additional stations would encourage trucking companies to begin converting and building their fleets to use natural gas rather than gasoline. The Coalition is aiming for less dependence on foreign oil and taking advantage of the vast resource of natural gas located in the Marcellus Shale beneath much of Western Pennsylvania. They point out that with compressed natural gas selling for around $1.90 a gallon, the alternative $3.85 national average for gasoline seems like a fortune.

Kathryn Klaber, President and CEO of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, says in order to revolutionize the industry, a change must start somewhere.

“The findings really lay out what a strategy would be for putting refueling of fleet vehicles in place and having that be really the leverage point from which we may be able to in the future look at additional private vehicles fueled by natural gas,” Klaber says.

Klaber hopes to achieve a public-private partnership to receive state funds in order to spark the industry’s growth by beginning to build these stations while converting fleet vehicles. The coalition says $200 million would be the most aggressive implementation and they are leaving the amount of funding up to lawmakers.

She says the state has already made advances in that direction that can be built upon.

“Most notably I think up in State College where the transit system runs on natural gas,” she says. “We’ve now got manufacturing from Mack truck in the eastern part of that state who’s bringing these vehicles off the line, and there’s a handful of stations right now being built for fleet purposes.”

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