By this time next year, the Valley’s very first compressed natural gas filling station should be open for business.
IGS Energy CNG Services, which is based in Dublin, near Columbus, is set to invest up to $2.5 million to install a pair of pumps at the Mr. Fuel truck stop located in the already busy Salt Springs Road corridor near Interstate 80 in Weathersfield Township. Company executives said they will partner with the gas station owners on the project.
They plan to break ground at 2840 Salt Springs Road late this year to add new CNG dispensing equipment, looking to take advantage of the big volume of truck traffic rolling through the area on the interstate, but also to offer refueling services to what officials believe is a growing number of companies with fleets of trucks.
“AT&T for example has publicly stated that they’re slowly converting their fleet over to compressed natural gas, and further, on the medium and the heavy duty side, companies like Waste Management or any refuse-type company, transit agencies, really make a lot of sense for CNG,” said Dave Mrowzinski of IGS Energy CNG Services.
Mrowzinki said a number of heavy truck makers already produce CNG-capable rigs, which are more expensive to buy than their diesel or gasoline counterparts. But he claims natural gas is being sold across the country for roughly half the price of diesel fuel, meaning the savings could add up quickly.
IGS said in a statement CNG could save between 30 to 50 percent per gallon over gasoline.
“Our plans for this CNG fueling station is a component of our response to the emerging market demand for fast, convenient refueling of CNG vehicles,” IGS Energy president Scott White said in a statement. “Natural gas offers an inexpensive and environmentally friendly alternative to gasoline or diesel. Because natural gas is both abundant and produced domestically, vehicles fueled by natural gas are becoming an increasingly popular transportation option. This station will offer a convenient location and enable drivers to refuel in about the same time it would take at a conventional gasoline station.”
IGS said CNG emits as much as 30 percent less carbon dioxide, 75 percent less carbon monoxide and as much as 95 percent less particulate matter than gas or diesel fuel. And Mrowzinski said users are seeing the same horsepower and same miles per gallon they see with gasoline.
CNG engines burn at a higher temperature than gas engines. Some local car dealers have said conversion to CNG engines cost about $8,000-$10,000.
It may take a while for the idea to reach neighborhood showrooms. Right now, after-market natural gas engines are available on only a handful of GM truck models.
“It’s baby steps. GM, I’m sure, didn’t give these guys any seed money to come up with their CNG refilling station, so they obviously see the market, they obviously see the opportunity,” said Greg Greenwood of Greenwood Chevrolet.
Stark County officials have made the switch for about one-fourth of their buses, saving about one-third of the cost of diesel fuel, officials said in January. The Stark Area Regional Transit Authority also opened northern Ohio’s first CNG filling station. Other CNG stations have been opened in western Pennsylvania.