"Clean Fuels Ohio gave us the opportunity to start down this road." Michael Coleman, Mayor, City of Columbus, Ohio
COLUMBUS, Ohio (PRWEB) July 15, 2014
The City of Columbus officially dedicated their second public CNG station today, July 15. Their first CNG station was opened over two years ago and was partially funded by Clean Fuels Ohio (CFO).
What would a school district and a large city, or trucking operations and an anaerobic digestion company have in common? All of these organizations have made the conversion to alternative fuels for their Ohio operations, and all of them have sought the assistance of Clean Fuels Ohio along the way.
“We have been so fortunate to assist a wide range of businesses and individuals in exploring the advantages of alternative fuels,” said CFO Executive Director Sam Spofforth. “We help each organization to look at the variety of options available to them, and, when available, help them get the grant funding they need to get their projects off the ground.”
Clean Fuels Ohio provides technical support for transportation professionals, advocates for sustainable transportation energy policies and serves as a resource clearinghouse for fleets, policy makers and the public.
One way CFO does this is through the organization’s Driving Force Fleet Advisors which provide assessment and planning, project development assistance, funding strategies, monitoring, follow-up and training to fleet managers. Fleets can also gain certification and public recognition for their efforts through CFO’s Ohio Green Fleets.
Making the Alternative Fuel Decision Easier
When a business begins exploring an upgrade to its fleet, there are myriad considerations: the type of products the fleet is handling, the type and distance of routes, variety of vehicles in use and available fueling stations. For the Pike-Delta-York School District in Northwest Ohio, conversion to propane-fueled school buses was at first only a financial consideration. Although skepticism about the additional costs of propane bus purchases, and the reliability of the buses was an obstacle to the project, assistance from Clean Fuels Ohio helped the district to secure funding from a US Department of Energy (DOE) Clean Cities American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant, which funded a portion of the cost of three new propane buses and a propane fueling station.
Infrastructure is usually a critical component in the conversion to alternative fuels. Do you establish your own fueling stations or utilize public fueling infrastructure? Do you offer public access to your fueling stations? “Businesses have a lot of choices, and since CFO is both a nonprofit organization and fuel and technology neutral, with no financial stake with vehicle, fuel or infrastructure providers, we can introduce fleets to all the options, and help them to make the best selection for their own situation,” said Spofforth.
When the City of Columbus began its move to alternative fuel vehicles, “there was very little infrastructure in Ohio for compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling,” explained Kelly Reagan, the city’s fleet administrator. “Mayor (Michael) Coleman made the commitment that we would build our own fueling infrastructure to support this alternative vehicle program.” The city now operates two public access fast-fill CNG stations, with two additional stations planned, which will be open to the public. In addition, the city operates two electric vehicle charging stations that are also open to the public. “Clean Fuels Ohio gave us the opportunity to start down this road,” said Mayor Coleman. “They provided the resources we needed to start this program. They helped us get underway.”
In the case of Dillon Transport, partnering with a customer, Owens Corning, provided a pathway to a multi state project. “Our work with Clean Fuels Ohio resulted in an attractive funding package that appealed to our customer,” explained Vice President Charles Musgrove. The company has converted 17 Ohio trucks to natural gas, and fuels through an expanding network of public stations in Ohio. The company has a similar operation with the customer in Florida. In addition, Dillon Transport is increasing its use of CNG vehicles nationwide.
Sustainability for the Future
Ultimately, the cost of fossil fuels and a concern for sustainability have motivated many fleets to make the commitment to alternative fuel vehicles. “Companies began really needing to find answers, once it was obvious that fuel prices were going to remain high,” said Spofforth. “Companies want to do the right thing – but they don’t quite know how to put the pieces together, get funding and make the choices they need to make. We’ve been able to help many varied fleets look at those options and make the decisions that lead them to sustainability.”
In 2007, Frito-Lay and PepsiCo began a concerted, nationwide effort to reduce emissions and conserve fuel, according to Glenn Reynolds, fleet manager for the company’s Mid America region (comprising Ohio, Michigan and eastern Indiana). “The support of Clean Fuels Ohio has really helped us take this effort very seriously in Ohio,” he said. Frito-Lay uses all-electric delivery vehicles, propane CNG vehicles and clean diesel vans, in its regional operations throughout Ohio. Nationwide, the company is working towards achieving a 50 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2017 through its sales and delivery fleet vehicles.
Sustainability has been the primary motivation for Ohio-based quasar, a national leader in anaerobic digestion and renewable natural gas (RNG). “We can do something about energy right now,” said quasar President Mel Kurtz. “Our company can make the equivalent of 25,000 gallons of fuel a day from waste materials – today. Our CFO partnership allowed us the opportunity to produce alternative motor vehicle fuel and the funding to build one CNG/RNG public refueling station”.
“There has been a change in thinking about alternative fuel vehicles here at Pike-Delta-York,” said Transportation Supervisor Jim Wolpert. “In the future, school districts will still be looking to save money, but they’ll also be focused on doing the right thing.”
“Sustainability is a big issue for most businesses,” said Dillon’s Musgrove. “Today we’re viewed as pioneers in the trucking industry. We’re getting phone calls from new customers saying, 'Take all you want of our new business, as long as you’re using natural gas."'
And in Columbus, the Mayor called upon its fleet division to reduce its fuel consumption starting in 2007. “This was not an economically-driven mandate. It was driven by the Mayor’s intention to reduce the city’s use of foreign oil, along with reducing emissions,” said Reagan. In 2011 and 2013, the City of Columbus was named the #1 Government Green Fleet in North America, and continues to be a role model for fleets considering transitioning to alternative fuels.
About Clean Fuels Ohio: Clean Fuels Ohio (CFO) is a statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the use of cleaner, domestic fuels and efficient vehicles to the transportation industry, community leaders and Ohio citizens. CFO provides technical support for transportation professionals, advocates for sustainable transportation energy policies and serves as a resource clearinghouse for fleets, policy makers and the public. Headquartered in Columbus, CFO works extensively around the state in collaboration with local partners. For more information visit http://www.CleanFuelsOhio.org or http://www.DriveElectricOhio.org.