Robert Schoenberger of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes how more and more business owners are converting their fleets to run on natural gas.
“The lure of cheap natural gas is encouraging more companies to consider abandoning gasoline and diesel to fuel their trucks and other commercial vehicles.
If you have any Smith Dairy milk or Ruggles ice cream in your house, it probably got to the store in a natural gas-powered truck, Chuck Diehl, trucking fleet manager for the Orville company said during a panel discussion on natural gas in commercial vehicles hosted by the McDonald Hopkins law firm.
Smith has converted much of its fleet to run on natural gas and is building its own fueling station in Orville to fuel its trucks and sell gas to the public.
“Our retail price on fuel is going to be about $1.75″ for an amount of gas roughly equivalent to a gallon of diesel fuel, Diehl said. “Our last wholesale delivery of diesel was about $3.50 a gallon.”
Cutting fuel prices in half means it will take Smith about three years to break even on the extra cost of natural gas trucks, Diehl said. The company expects the fueling station to break even on costs in about 10 years.
NatGasCar, a Cleveland startup that makes kits to convert some Chrysler trucks and vans into natural gas vehicles, has had orders increase sharply as natural gas prices have fallen, treasurer Nancy Keene said.
“We’ve had really strong sales in Oregon and Utah, and some to Texas and Louisiana,” she added. Keene said Salt Lake City has dozens of natural gas fueling stations, making the company’s conversion kits more popular there than in Cleveland.”