On March 15, 2015 10:12 pm
By: Kristie Kubovic, Director of Communications, Shale Media Group
Edited By: Mindy Gattner, Editor, Shale Media Group
Photos By: Shale Media Group
Themed “Success Stories,” the second annual Tri-State Alternative Fueling Expo & Conference was held on February 24-26, 2015 at the Monroeville Convention Center in Monroeville, PA. The event blended the expanding alternative fuels trade with the transportation and shale oil and gas industries.
The expo showcased exhibitors from across the alternative fuels spectrum, including liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) (also known as propane), compressed natural gas (CNG), and hybrid options. These included heavy-, medium-, and light-duty trucks; cars; buses; and motorized equipment that run on alternative fuels. In addition, fueling infrastructure for CNG and propane was on display.
The centerpiece of the expo floor was a CNG fueling station, which after the event, was bound for Bentleyville, PA. It, along with a propane fueling station, will form Energy from U.S. 1 (EFUS), a CNG and propane refueling station that is currently being built and will be one of only a handful across southwestern Pennsylvania.
A special announcement was also revealed at the expo. U.S. Gain (GAIN Clean Fuel); “O” Ring CNG Fuel Systems, the builder of Energy from U.S. 1; and “O” Ring’s affiliates will co-brand “O” Ring’s existing CNG stations as “O” Ring CNG/GAIN Clean Fuel and incorporate them into U.S. Gain’s nationwide infrastructure of CNG stations.
“O” Ring CNG is a full-service global CNG fuel solutions company based in western Pennsylvania. Bob Beatty, President, “O”Ring CNG Fuel Systems, expressed, “Our goal is to promote the use of CNG as a clean, abundant, and economical North American energy source in order to boost the economy, reduce foreign oil purchases, enhance national energy security, create more jobs for US workers, and reduce harmful emission into the environment. This partnership is a great opportunity and a win-win for everyone.”
With the domestic abundance and growth of the shale oil and gas industry in the United States, the alternative fuels industry (CNG and propane in particular) has benefitted. Both CNG and propane are cleaner than petroleum-based fuel and help reduce emissions from greenhouse gases. Plus, they offer America energy security, since their source comes from areas like the Marcellus and Utica Shale plays, a region right under the feet of millions of Americans.
ProGas, Inc., a propane distributor in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio, services residential and commercial accounts along with propane motor fuel, known as autogas. Ronald Schramm, President, ProGas, explained, “Propane is an alternative fuel that is easy to store, has a high energy content, produces low emissions by contributing up to 25% less greenhouse gas emissions [as compared to gasoline], and is non-toxic and presents no threat to soil, surface water, or groundwater.”
ProGas had propane fueling infrastructure on display that included a 1,000 gallon propane dispensing station and a cylinder exchange cabinet used for portable equipment. Schramm says, “The 1,000 gallon propane dispensing station would be used for a fleet account. It is a unit that we could take to their location. From that they could fuel their cars or vehicles.” Many fleet vehicles, such as school buses, shuttles, and police vehicles are utilizing autogas as a fuel source.
This year with the help of the Propane Educational and Research Council, all of the propane vendors had a section in the exhibit hall and grouped their displays together. “Having everything grouped together allowed the attendees the opportunity to walk over to specific equipment or machinery and discuss it with the exhibitors. Also, in the past, we have showcased the use of propane as a motor fuel in light- and medium-duty vehicles. We are still doing that, but this year we are also emphasizing the use of propane in small engines, such as lawnmowers, weed trimmers, and marine outboard engines,” relayed Schramm.
The propane section also included a number of propane powered alternative fueled vehicles on display, including ProGas’ Ford passenger AutoGas van, a propane powered BlueBird Bus, and Roush Clean Tech’s propane liquid injection Ford pickup truck. This year ProGas also showcased propane powered lawn equipment including the Exmark zero-turn mower, a Lehr Eco Weed Trimmer, and a Lehr 15 HP propane-powered 4 stroke outboard motor. In addition to the propane exhibitors’ personnel, the propane area was well staffed by a number of well-versed Pennsylvania Propane Gas Association members.
Schramm says, “CNG and propane autogas are leading the growth in the alternative fuels market. Even with lower gasoline and diesel prices, propane autogas continues to offer cost advantages over conventional fuels. Price is a key factor, but not the only factor. Fleet managers look at overall performance, efficiency, and productivity. Propane provides all of that and more. With the Marcellus Shale and all the shale plays throughout our country, we as a nation need to use these products and our own energy source.”
Another exhibitor, Beemac Trucking, had a CNG powered tractor on display. The nationwide, flat-bed trucking company is headquartered in Ambridge, PA. In 2014, Beemac completed building a public CNG station in Ambridge to fuel 20 previously purchased original equipment manufacturer (OEM) CNG Volvo tractors. “We were the ideal candidate for the CNG conversion due to the size, distance traveled and amount of gas consumed by our trucks,” explained Dave Dudo, Senior Vice President of Operations, Beemac Trucking.
Universities also became involved with the expo as well. Both Penn State’s and West Virginia University’s Advanced Vehicle Teams were on hand to discuss the EcoCAR 3 challenge, which is in conjuncture with the Department of Energy. Donghee Lee, Communications Manager, Penn State Advanced Vehicle Team, explained, “EcoCAR 3 is a four-year collegiate advanced vehicle technology engineering competition. It is the third in a series. Sixteen teams from the US and Canada participate in this automotive engineering competition to design and develop a hybrid Chevrolet Camaro.”
Additional exhibitors included: Cobey Energy; CP Energy; Cummins Bridgeway; Dearing Compressor & Pump Co.; FYDA Freightliner and Energy Solutions; George I. Reitz & Sons, Inc.; Ozinga Energy; and VFG Energy Leasing & Finance.
The keynote speakers for the conference portion of the event included the Honorable Rich Fitzgerald, Allegheny County Chief Executive, and Toby Fauver, Deputy Secretary for Multimodal Transportation, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. Additional sessions were held with presentations from representatives from Giant Eagle, GSP Marketing, Pittsburgh Region Clean Cities, REV LNG, SSP CNG Plus, and Waste Management.
During the Natural Gas and Propane Petroleum Reduction Technology Workshop, Tim Hooker, National Sales Manager, GSP Marketing, addressed the safety of CNG and propane and pointed out that there is a multitude of safety technology for both. “With all of the precautionary measures built into the tanks, they are superior to gas tanks,” relayed Hooker, who also pointed out that propane powered school buses are exceptionally built in order to sustain crashes. Additionally, the auto ignition temperature is beneficially high for both CNG and propane in comparison to other common fuels. For example, CNG’s auto ignition temperature is 1070°, while propane’s is 890°. On the flip side, gasoline’s is 475°, while diesel’s is only 420°.
In Fitzgerald’s presentation, Keynote Address: A Great Region – A Great Future, he discussed how the Pittsburgh’s “Green Team” is making older buildings in the area more energy efficient and relayed that previously our region told others to be green, but did not do it themselves. Allegheny County has cut both energy and water consumption by 20%. Fitzgerald noted that with nuclear, coal, natural gas, wind, solar, and geothermal power, Pittsburgh should be “all of the above” when it comes to energy usage.
Adding that Pittsburgh is the most affordable city in America, Fitzgerald attributed that this is in large part due to the energy sector, which hosts 800 companies in this region alone and presents numerous opportunities, including high paying jobs. In addition, he added that projects, like CONSOL Energy’s Pittsburgh International Airport project, help grow this region. CONSOL is drilling on part of the airport’s 9,000 acres, which will bring in $500 million for the Airport, and will result in an additional $500 million investment. According to Fitzgerald, the billion dollar project is being conducted with no taxpayer money; however, they will receive royalties. Plus, it helps with items like cheaper airport fees. In addition, he discussed the Deer Lakes Park project, where the County was able to draft a lease with enhanced environmental protection including a provision that the drilling operations will never touch park land. He stated, “We will continue to do these types of projects as we see opportunities.”
In the Case Study: CNG for an Environmental & Fuel Savings Advantage – Another Giant Eagle Success Story presentation, Mike Lickert, Operations Fleet Manager, Giant Eagle, talked about Giant Eagle’s converting to CNG. He noted that choosing natural gas was a commitment to the environment and that diesel was losing its luster, due to the price. Giving advice to other companies thinking of making the switch, Lickert noted, “Do your homework,” and recommended looking at items such as range, fueling infrastructure, payload, vehicle maintenance, and team member education/training.
In the Be a Cut Above seminar, Schramm and Walt Stoltz, Marketing Services Manager, Lawn Equipment Parts Company (LEPCO) provided information on transitioning a commercial mowing fleet to propane. Stoltz talked about the lawn equipment, while Schramm discussed fueling options. Stoltz says, “Utilizing propane in commercial lawn mowers makes sense economically and environmentally, and it helps America.” He also pointed out the advantage of mowing season not being in propane’s peak season, which is winter, along with the fact that gasoline prices typically increase from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
Schramm relayed that propane is not new and has been used for a long time. Now propane autogas can be utilized in cars, trucks, buses, marine, and lawn care equipment. School buses are the biggest user of autogas, but 97% of our transportation industry is still petroleum based. Schramm also added that due to their environmental friendliness, these propane propelled lawn mowers could be used on ozone action days and that incentives bring the cost of a new propane-fueled mower close to the cost of a petroleum-powered mower.
By showcasing exhibitors and information from across the alternative fuels spectrum, the second annual Tri-State Alternative Fueling Expo & Conference highlighted the alternative fuels, transportation, and shale oil and gas industries. Employing propane, CNG, and hybrid options, including heavy-, medium-, and light-duty trucks; cars; buses; motorized equipment; and infrastructure the event helped education and demonstrate the industries importance to America.
For video highlights of the Tri-State Alternative Fueling Expo & Conference, click on the following links:
• Gain Clean Fuel, “O” Ring CNG, & EFUS Announce Partnership in New CNG Stations (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0xi-trNPMSY)
• Bill Renz of Gain America at the 2015 Tri-State Alternative Fueling Expo & Conference (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SmuyMFMwO3s)
• EcoCAR 3 at 2015 Tri-State Alternative Fueling Expo & Conference (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iy1y6XwDZDk)
Shale Media Group (SMG) is the news, information, and education resource dedicated to the shale oil and gas industries by messaging across video, Internet, publications, events, and radio. For more, check out ShaleMediaGroup.com to access all platforms, including SMG’s latest news delivery system–Shale Energy Business Briefing (SEBB), an ad-free subscription based service, where subscribers receive a real-time, daily email, featuring concise, hard hitting shale news 7 days/week, 365 days/year. To sign up, go to sebb.us. Kristie Kubovic is the Director of Communications at Shale Media Group. Contact her at Kristie@ShaleMediaGroup.com.