Tuesday, December 2, 2008

T. Boone's Compressed Natural Gas Stations - Open for Business in Southern California

LA Times

Tooling around Glendale in your natural-gas-powered vehicle will be a bit easier next summer.

Clean Energy Fuels Corp. said today it plans to open a compressed natural gas station at the Glendale train station off San Fernando Road by summer 2009. The station will be open to the public and also service the city of Glendale’s CNG-powered Beeline buses and its growing fleet of CNG-fueled trash trucks.

Seal Beach-based Clean Energy, co-founded by Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens, is a major local operator of CNG stations open to the public, with about 20 in the Los Angeles area and north Orange County. Many CNG stations are privately owned by fleet operators, and with only about 100 public-access CNG stations now in California, it still takes some planning to make sure you are within range of a fill-up.

Jim Harger, senior vice president of Clean Energy, said there are several thousand CNG-powered cars in the L.A. area, many of them taxicabs. A lot of those are conversions. The only regular-production CNG-powered car available from a major manufacturer these days is the Honda Civic GX.

In anticipation of new "green" taxi regulations in the area, Clean Energy plans to open half a dozen CNG stations in L.A. and the South Bay by next summer, Harger said. (Running vehicles on natural gas emits far fewer greenhouse gases than gasoline or diesel.)

Manhattan Beach, for example, is expected to give final approval Tuesday night to an ordinance that would require local taxi operators to phase in low-emission vehicles over a four-year period. Natural gas is expected to be a popular option because the big Ford Crown Victorias favored by taxi drivers are easy to convert to CNG operation, said Manhattan Beach Finance Director Bruce Moe.

Natural gas costs the equivalent of about $1.65 a gallon at Clean Energy stations. That’s cheaper than the $1.95-a-gallon statewide average for regular gasoline, although CNG’s price advantage has narrowed considerably as gasoline prices have plummeted.

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