The natural gas revolution will continue this summer in Oklahoma City.
Clean Energy Fuels will build a liquefied natural gas fueling station at the Flying J Travel Plaza at Interstate 40 and Morgan Road by the end of July.
Greg Roche, the company's vice president of infrastructure, said Clean Energy plans to build 150 stations for its natural gas highway by the end of next year.
“It's more than the industry's ever built,” Roche said.
Clean Energy was co-founded by Oklahoma native T. Boone Pickens, a vocal advocate of using natural gas to fuel the nation's trucking fleet.
The California-based company got a $150 million boost last year from Chesapeake Energy Corp. to accelerate its development of public LNG fueling
“There is increasing interest in natural gas as a transportation fuel, particularly in the heavy-duty truck and fleet category,” Pickens spokesman Jay Rosser said. “America's energy future, our national security and our environment improves with the addition of each natural gas fueling station.
“This is happening because of private sector and state government leadership. With federal leadership, we can expedite this progress.”
Roche said Clean Energy plans to complete 70 natural gas fueling stations this year and 80 more next year.
There is only one planned for Oklahoma so far, but “that's just the starting point,” he said.
Roche said LNG, which costs about $1.50 a gallon less than diesel, is best suited to heavy-duty trucks.
Clean Energy's first choice is to partner with existing truck stops to put in LNG fueling stations, but the company will build them if necessary.
Roche said the company is aiming to get a station in place about every 250 miles on long-haul trucking routes, with additional locations inside large metropolitan areas.
Roche said the goal is to ensure drivers and trucking company owners are comfortable with putting trucks fueled by natural gas on the road because there are enough stations available.
He said eight stations have opened this year, with an additional 20 or so under construction. The rest of the stations planned for 2012 are in the design or permitting
Officials hope to have the Oklahoma City station completed by late this summer, Roche said.
Taylor Shinn, Chesapeake's senior director of corporate development, said he is pleased by Clean Energy's progress so far.
“It has been extremely encouraging to see the widespread growth, adoption and interest in natural gas as a transportation fuel, particularly for heavy-duty freight transportation,” he said. “Every day through our partnerships we see and hear about national and regional trucking companies shifting to natural gas or initiating natural gas pilot programs.”
Shinn said the natural gas highway system will encourage more companies to embrace natural gas as an alternative to more expensive diesel fuel.
“Trucking companies such as UPS, FedEx, Swift, US Foods, Central Freight, J.B. Hunt, among many others, are beginning the transition, and Chesapeake is proud to support them alongside Clean Energy,” he said.
“While these companies are a strong endorsement of the market's future, the fact that the top 3 diesel retailers in America are working on natural gas fueling stations is a clear sign of the continued growth that is to come for natural gas as a transportation fuel.”