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Alternative energy vehicles spawn road-range concerns

Energy Editor Adam Wilmoth took his natural-gas powered car out of state for the first time this weekend, stretching its range and testing how far it can go across the country.
by Adam Wilmoth Modified: July 19, 2013 at 12:00 pm •  Published: July 18, 2013

So just before crossing into Texas, I stopped to top off my tank at the Chickasaw Travel Stop on Exit 1 between the casinos.

The station features a large, clean, high-pressure CNG terminal, but it's not so easy to get to it. The gasoline and diesel pumps are on the corner. The CNG pumps can be seen from the front, but to get there, drivers have to weave through the casino parking lot.

I had more than a half tank when I stopped, but I felt better leaving the state with plenty of fuel. I used about a third of a tank to make it the rest of the way to Arlington.

At the end of the day, we stopped by a Clean Energy CNG pump at a Valero station about a mile from Six Flags. The California company cofounded by T. Boone Pickens and partially supported by Chesapeake Energy Corp. is the only company in the metroplex to provide CNG to the public.

The pump worked well and had high pressure, but the fuel cost at least $1 per gallon equivalent more than almost every station in Oklahoma. But at $2.24, I still saved more than $1 per gallon over gasoline.

After topping off in Arlington, we headed home and my family quickly fell asleep. I drove 198 miles nonstop to my home and still had about one-fifth of a tank left, leaving me about 40 to 50 miles until empty.

While the trip was hardly cross-country, it showed me that it is possible to get about 250 miles on one tank. That knowledge opens up much of the eastern half of the country, as CNG stations are spaced about 200 to 225 miles apart.

For now, however, I still can't go west or through the northern Plains.

by Adam Wilmoth
Energy Editor
Adam Wilmoth returned to The Oklahoman as energy editor in 2012 after working for four years in public relations. He previously spent seven years as a business reporter at The Oklahoman, including five years covering the state's energy sector....
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