Monday, March 05, 2012

Close Encounters of the First Kind

So last week I tweeted that I have yet to see a natural gas vehicle being fueled at the new station which opened up in the Strip District last year to a certain fanfare.  
So I was about to compose a post aimed at ferreting out whether there are any owners of non-fleet natural gas vehicles in the city at all.  I remember one in Friendship about 15 years ago. 
Then coincidentially Brian O. looked at the state of natural gas vehicles in his Sunday column. His article starts out with a local owner of a Honda natural gas vehicle.  However I think it is fair to say she was a ringer since Brian identifies her as a People's Gas executive. It wasn't even her car if you read the article further, it implies the vehicle was loaned to her.  Shouldn't all local gas executives have their own natgas vehicles?? Voting with your feet and all. 

So..  if we exclude employees of natural gas companies or fleet vehicles.  I still want to ask the question.  Is there a single owner of a natural gas vehicle residing in the city?  I mean someone who purchased a natural gas vehicle themselves as an alternative to your run of the mill gasoline powered vehicle.  I don't know the answer to that, but I suspect if someone was out there Brian would have found them for that column.

It just got me wondering more since he quotes this: "Mr. Price said talks with private investors have him expecting 15 to 20 public natural gas stations to emerge in the next year to 18 months. ".   Since there are plenty of natural gas stations elsewhere in the nation, I presume that sentence was referencing the Pittsburgh region.  I just wonder how so many stations can start up before there is any demand?

So yes, I get it.  Therer are no cars because there are no dealers selling natgas vehicles locally.  So who are all these new stations for? The fleets one would suppose, though the fleets running natgas now likely have their own pumps.   and why did Giant Eagle put natgas into its Fairywood station of all places?  Fairywood??  Must be a reason. Questions I would ask is all.

I have no data on this.. am not sure anyone does.  It just seems to me that no matter all the talk, the number of private natural gas vehicles in Pittsburgh is still lower than it was 15 or more years ago.  Back when I think there were public natgas stations around. 

Not really related, but this all sparked a neuron.  There has not been a news story recently on the veggie-fuel folks in Braddock? They were on a PR tear for a while.  I see they actually have a spinoff slated to go in around the corner from me. Shows what I know.


Anonymous MH said...

Giant Eagle put an electric car charging station into Greenfield. I assume there is some sort of PR thing happening with alternative fuels.

Monday, March 05, 2012 9:41:00 AM  
Anonymous The Wiz said...

Can't help you in your quest to find a CNG vehicle in the city. But here is a guy in Franklin Pa that is in the business of converting vehicles, home units, and public fueling stations.


Monday, March 05, 2012 10:21:00 PM  
Blogger Denovich said...

Converting a vehicle to LPG or CNG is pretty easy. It was fairly common in England (where unleaded is > $10 gal, and LPG considerably cheaper.)

Looks like costs for a conversion kit (self-installed, so just the parts) would be about $2000, which includes a 10 gallon equivalent tank (which weighs a not insignificant 200+ lbs.)

Back of the envelope says payback would be in about 20,000 miles/1200gals of nat gas. That's using today's pricing for unleaded and CNG ($1.72gge) and a truck getting 15mpg. Not terribly compelling (considering how much I drive my truck.)

The limited range or significant weight/size of CNG tanks really limits the potential of the switch. Hard to find that much space to cram a tank in modern autos (other than the trunk.) And I'd hate to add another 200lbs of weight.

Oh well, glad I went through the exercise, now I don't feel like I'm really missing out on anything.


Tuesday, March 06, 2012 11:02:00 AM  

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