Work on Greeley’s newest planned compressed natural gas fueling station is continuing, and it looks like a good time to do it.
As officials across the state and county push for more alternative fuel usage, especially compressed natural gas, Ward Energy is adding its fourth CNG station in Weld County. It will be the largest CNG fueling station in the state. It also will offer charging stations for electric cars.
The 2-acre facility has been approved by city planners and will be at 2341 117th Ave. Roche Constructors plans to break ground in August and open the facility by the end of the year, said Tom Roche, the company’s president and CEO. It will support a growing set of CNG fleets across Weld County.
Unlike many CNG stations, this one won’t be exclusive to one kind of vehicle, said Greeley planner Marian Daran. Although it was designed to meet the needs of Ward Energy’s fleet clients, it will be open to the public.
It won’t be a rest stop or a convenience store. The station will include four islands for semi trucks, two islands for passenger vehicles, a CNG pump enclosure with 8-foot walls, a covered shelter and information kiosk, electric equipment storage area, an ADA accessible restroom, four electric vehicle charging stations, a future CNG pump enclosure and eight parking spaces.
Compressed natural gas is made of natural gas and burns cleaner than gasoline or diesel, which cuts down on air pollution. It’s also cheaper than gasoline. CNG is measured in gas gallon equivalents or GGEs. Since 2008, gasoline prices have averaged $2.86 per gallon, and diesel came in at $2.90, according to the Colorado Energy Office. In the same time frame, CNG averaged $1.90.
Various Colorado agencies have pushed for the adoption of CNG vehicles, including grant programs through Alt Fuels Colorado and the Regional Air Quality Council. Weld County’s Smart Energy program has similar goals.
Something seems to be working.
From 2013 to 2014, Colorado CNG fuel sales more than doubled, according to data from CEO.
Much of this comes from corporate and government use of CNG vehicles, which is becoming a trend in Greeley and Weld County.
Natural gas companies have started using CNG vehicles in their own fleets.
Curtis Rueter is Noble Energy’s compressed natural gas and liquefied natural gas development manager. He leads initiatives to replace diesel and gasoline with natural gas and support CNG outreach.
“We’ve been working at it for a couple or three years now,” Rueter said.
Noble now has drilling rigs, hydraulic fracturing sites, pumper fleets and about 100 F250s running on natural gas at least part time. Two rigs in Weld are running on a similar system.
The company also is helping others into the fold. In 2012, Noble launched a five-year, $5-million school bus program, in which they help school districts replace old buses with CNG-powered ones.
“Today we have awarded or are in the process of rewarding … matching funds for 28 school buses,” Rueter said.
Greeley-Evans School District 6 and Valley Re-1 School District were the first two to get help with buying buses. Noble has expanded the program outside of Weld and started helping schools across the Front Range.
Greeley hasn’t bought any CNG vehicles yet but will buy six buses for the transit fleet this year, said Public Works Director Joel Hemesath.
Weld County has been quicker on the uptake.
“We have more than 55 vehicles converted now,” said Weld County Transportation Manager Elizabeth Relford. She and County Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer have worked together to create the county’s Smart Energy program, which began in 2009.
Many companies didn’t feel comfortable converting their fleets to natural gas because there were too few fueling stations, Relford said. The program focused on mitigating that problem.
Weld has used Smart Energy funds to bring five more stations to the county, Kirkmeyer said.
“I do know from personal experience … there’s actually starting to be lines at these,” Kirkmeyer said.
When she started the initiative, she was driving a gasoline car. It came time to buy a new one, and she decided to put her money where her mouth is. She drives a CNG-powered Honda Civic.
She said she loves it. According to her calculations, she’s saving about $3,000 a year on fuel costs. Because the engine runs cleaner, she hasn’t had to get maintenance done as often.
“When you start thinking from a personal-pocketbook perspective … it definitely makes it worth it,” she said.
This article was written by Catherine Sweeney from Greeley Tribune, Colo. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.