Gas Co. puts spotlight on natural gas technology

DOWNEY - The dramatic cost savings realized by fueling cars and trucks with natural gas instead of gasoline or diesel was on display Tuesday as Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) hosted its first Light-Duty Natural Gas Vehicle Conference at the company's Energy Resource Center in Downey. The conference featured the latest developments in compressed natural gas (CNG) technology and natural gas vehicles (NGVs).

In recent years, most major, heavy-duty transit and refuse fleets in Southern California have switched from diesel to clean-burning natural gas. This has resulted in the growth of one of the largest networks of CNG fuel stations in the U.S. and sparked an interest among automakers in the increasing market potential of NGVs.

"The continuous high price of gasoline is putting the spotlight on vehicles powered by compressed natural gas," said Hal D. Snyder, vice president of customer solutions for SoCalGas. "Natural gas is a domestic resource that is clean, cheap and abundant -- and helps create jobs here in the U.S. When considering cost, efficiency and environmental benefits, natural gas is one of our nation's most attractive energy sources."

At the conference, representatives from Chrysler, Ford, General Motors and Honda provided insights on the growth of the NGV market. Honda demonstrated their all-new Honda Civic Natural Gas, which was named "Green Car of the Year" at the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show and has solo driver carpool lane access until 2015. Other automakers discussed how they are re-entering the market by providing customers with dual-fuel vehicles that run on CNG or gasoline.

Attendees also learned about refueling natural gas vehicles at home and access to special natural gas rates offered by SoCalGas. Conference programs and events provided an overview of the latest regulatory policies and funding developments affecting the NGV industry as well as opportunities to fuel and drive an NGV.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, natural gas emits about 30 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline; reduces smog-producing pollutants by up to 90 percent; and costs 30 percent to 50 percent less than gasoline or diesel. The average price in September for CNG at SoCalGas stations is $1.94 for the energy equivalent of a gallon of gasoline or diesel. This is among the lowest CNG prices in the last 15 years. There are more than 100,000 NGVs in the U.S.

Southern California currently has nearly 100 public-access compressed natural gas fueling stations serving more than 17,000 natural gas-powered vehicles. SoCalGas is adding 1,000 new natural gas-powered trucks to its fleet and plans to upgrade all 13 company-owned public-access CNG stations.

********** Published: September 27, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 24