A workshop will be held this Thursday in Lincoln that will show those who operate fleets of vehicles what compressed natural gas, or CNG, is all about. Steve Yborra is the director of marketing, education and communication with the Clean Vehicle Education Foundation and tells us fleet vehicle owners and managers have the most to gain from using natural gas in their vehicles… for now.
“Such as the government fleets, transit fleets, county fleets. Things that have to do with trucks and cars and buses as well as private vehicles in private fleets such as food and beverage, snack foods, linens and services. The kinds of folks that are in return to base, repetitive operations where they use a fair amount of fuel.”
Yborra says there are many questions they plan to answer this Thursday.
“From what is driving that market and that interest. Economics. Energy security. Environment. What kinds of vehicles are available? Some of the kinds of questions that are asked about stations and what are the things you need to know about developing a station. What are the best applications? Then we talk about the economics and share stories from other fleets that have done it both public and private around the country.”
Yborra says right now, Happy Cab is climbing on board the natural gas bandwagon.
“Are going to be a total of 50 of the vehicles which they will be converting themselves after being trained by the company that actually manufactures the system and has the appropriate federal certificates that says they can make the changes to the vehicles. As well as offering a service of being able to convert other people’s vehicles in another division of their business that has a lot of automotive technicians.”
There are twocompressed natural gas stations planned for the Omaha area and with the price of gasoline continuing to rise, private vehicle owners also want to learn more. Yborra says even though it looks like baby steps now, there is a method to their focus on fleet vehicles.
“The reason is we talk to fleets is the higher the fuel use, it creates the economy of scale for businesses whether it is a utility or a private business to make the investment to build a station that can serve the public. The cost of a station is certainly more and is more complicated than diesel or gasoline where there is a tank in the ground. Where we make up for that is operating costs because natural gas is so inexpensive and it is American. It is primarily from the United States, it is so inexpensive you end up paying yourself back for the station and the vehicle and in the end you save a lot of money. That is what is really driving a lot of fleets to look at it today is that natural gas is abundant. It is domestic. It is affordable and it isn’t going through the spikes we see in oil prices. The other day oil was 112-dollars a barrel. I don’t know what your gas prices are there now but we are seeing gasoline that is running at the high three dollars, maybe just over four. It is over four dollars in a number of markets. Natural gas today, you know a gasoline equivalent is certainly less than 2-dollars and probably in the $1.50 range so there is some great savings to pay back the initial premium people pay for these vehicles.”
The workshop is Thursday at UNL’s Champions Club on R Street in Lincoln.
It is being hosted by the Clean Vehicle Education Association, Black Hills Energy, Metropolitan Utilities District, Nebraska Clean Cities, Kansas City Regional Clean Cities Coalition, Iowa Clean Cities Coalition, Nebraska Energy Office, City of Lincoln, Lincoln Airport and Lincoln Composites.