PA Encourages Natural Gas as Driving Fuel

By Matt Porter

November 1, 2012 Updated Nov 1, 2012 at 10:58 PM EST

Towanda, PA (WBNG Binghamton) State encourages public and private fleets to convert to compressed natural gas with $10 million grant.

Natural gas is booming in Pennsylvania.

That's why Duane Philips, operations manager for Williams Oil and Propane, is investing in compressed natural gas filling stations in the state.

"Pennsylvania sits on this enormous Marcellus shale deposit of natural gas and we think it's really important that we utilize it here," said Phillips.

His company put $1.5 million into the project, without a single guaranteed customer.

"We think it's really important that we had to make the move," Phillips said, "And build the site first before they would commit the vehicles."

In just a couple weeks, Phillips will open his first CNG station in Towanda. It will join one of about 20 CNG filling stations in the state.

"There are limited fueling stations," said Michelle Ferguson of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, "But there's a lot of interest, and the infrastructure is growing across the state."

The DEP has been holding state wide seminars teaching business owners how they can convert their fleets to natural gas.

The state is offering $10 million to help large fleet owners, including public transit, convert to the locally based fuel. Five million will go specifically to municipal transit services. The grant is only for large truck and fleet owners, not smaller trucks or cars.

At half the price of diesel, gas companies said it's a no brainer.

"I think if you have an abundance in your backyard," said William Freeman of Chesapeake Energy, "It just makes sense to convert to natural gas, saves you a lot of money."

Something Phillips is betting on.