Andersen Windows‘ delivery trucks have hit the highways, and they’re being fueled by compressed natural gas that, the company believes, will save them over $25,000 per year at today’s gas prices. Per truck. More than enough, in other words, to make back the $40000 premium on CNG trucks compared to their conventional counterparts.
At $5/gallon? There’s no question the CNG alternative is a winner.
Savings like that are one reason why commercial fleets like AT&T and states like California, Nevada, and Utah are turning their attention away from diesel and gasoline and considering compressed and liquefied natural gas which, thanks to “the shale-gas revolution”, is available for about $2 less per the equivalent gallon of conventional petroleum gasoline and diesel.
“Natural gas transportation is starting to hit a tipping point,” says Rob Brown, an analyst for Craig-Hallum Capital Group of Minneapolis. Brown sees more and more companies turning to CNG, driven partly by better CNG engine technologies designed strictly for burning natural gas, and a push among large companies to reduce harmful carbon emissions and boost their “green” image.
These CNG supporters are also working to address the fuel’s biggest perceived obstacle – a lack of infrastructure. In other words: a lace of places (especially for trucks, which need maneuvering room and rapid-fill pumps) to fill up.
Two CNG filling stations specifically designed for semi trucks will be opening in Wisconsin this week, built in cooperation with Andersen Windows so that company’s trucks will be able to refuel near its Menomonie, Wis., distribution centers. That station, a Cenex truck stop just off of I-94, works in concert with another in Green Bay will be open to the public. It’s hoped that these stations will form the basis for a natural-gas shipping corridor between the twin cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul and Chicago, IL.
“You need a place to start, and Andersen Windows is creating that start,” said Craig Dickman, CEO of Breakthrough Fuel, a Green Bay-based company that helps shippers reduce their costs.