NORMAN — The growing buzz on compressed natural gas finally reached a crescendo last fall for Hammer Construction Inc.
Robby Moore, the 50-year-old company's vice president of operations, said he had read enough about the benefits of CNG and seen enough trucks marked with the distinctive blue diamond of a natural gas vehicle to warrant a look at the alternative fuel.
“After doing our research, it was a no-brainer,” Moore said.
Hammer decided to begin making the switch to natural gas last fall. Moore said there are lot of incentives, including a state tax credit and rebates from Oklahoma Natural Gas, but the biggest savings are expected to come from reduced fuel costs.
CNG typically sells for less than half the cost of traditional vehicle fuels.
One of the companies that has demonstrated the benefits of natural gas for Hammer is Chesapeake Energy Corp., a vocal supporter of CNG as an alternative to gasoline or diesel.
The two companies are linked by history, as Hammer did the site preparation for Chesapeake's first well near Lindsay more than 20 years ago.
Hammer has converted eight of its light-duty pickups to run on CNG, Moore said, with plans to outfit eight more with CNG tanks over the next few weeks.
Moore said the Norman-based company expects to convert more trucks as it replaces vehicles in its fleet, which includes about 55 pickups. He said Hammer will look for other uses of CNG.
“We're excited about it,” Moore said. “I hope that we will be able to roll this out into our medium- and heavy-duty vehicles as well.”
Hammer expects to be able to recoup its CNG investment — estimated to be about $5,000 per vehicle — in fuel savings after each one goes about 40,000 miles.