With two new compressed natural gas stations opening in the coming weeks, Faulkner County residents can begin to use the alternative fossil fuel being extracted from the state.
Satterfield Oil Co.’s Gulf Station on East Oak will officially open two CNG fueling pumps Tuesday with a ribbon cutting ceremony scheduled at 10 a.m., and Southwestern Energy is planning to open their new CNG fueling station on Sanders Street in mid-October.
“Not only is it a concept but we have infrastructure being built now,” said Faulkner County Judge Allen Dodson.
Jamie Gates, senior vice president of the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber has received a number of calls over the last few years from people looking for CNG fueling stations.
“I think these stations will quickly become a destination for anyone traveling I-40 particularly from Oklahoma,” he said.
Gates said the highest amount of social benefit is for fleet vehicles to convert because those are the vehicles that are driving or idling the most.
“A police car that could be driving six hours a day in the same part of town its in our best interest to reduce their emissions,” he said.
Dodson said the early adopters will be those who spend lots of money on fuel.
Faulkner County is not ready to move its entire fleet of road department vehicles to CNG, he said, but commends the Conway Police Department for converting eight police vehicles to the alternative fuel.
Southwestern Energy isn’t going to depend upon the profits it makes from its CNG station alone as a retail outlet, Dodson said, but they benefit by giving greater access to the people.
Donny McCallum, SWN Midstream Planning Supervisor, said SWN has 200 to 300 CNG compatible trucks to maintain its own station.
“We have an internal demand that can support it,” he said.
SWN data from their station in Damascus shows 50 percent of demand is outside of fleet vehicles.
McCallum said there are 1,242 stations across the U.S., and 117 currently planned or under construction.
“This station will demonstrate the viability of CNG infrastructure,” Gates said.
The country is starting to see gas companies investing in infrastructure, but for CNG to become a viable consumer option, McCallum said, it’s going to take commitment from auto manufactures to produce cheaper CNG options.
Last year the 2013 Chevy Silverados began being produced with natural gas capabilities, and in July Ford announced the 2014 F-150 would be available as a bi-fuel option.
The only CNG commercial passenger option is the Honda Civic GX starting at $26,305 getting 27 MPG in the city and 38 MPG on the highway.
For Arkansans interested in converting their vehicles, the Arkansas Energy Office of the Arkansas Development Commission provides rebates for 50 percent of the conversion cost up to $4,500.
The Energy Office also provides rebates for qualified CNG fueling stations in the amount of 75 percent of qualifying costs up to $400,000.
Satterfield Oil received a $235,000 grant for the installation of its CNG fueling pumps.
Dodson said he doesn’t have a problem with gas companies or state officials using incentives to adopt new technology.
“We shouldn’t take a short term view,” he said. “For the benefit of society we’ve got to get past the high initial cost of it.”
(Staff writer Michelle Corbet can be reached by email at email@example.com or by phone at 505-1215. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)