Larson Design Group Hosts Education Day on Compressed Natural Gas
Architectural, Engineering, and Survey Firm

On Wednesday, April 6, Larson Design Group hosted an education day at their corporate headquarters in Williamsport to focus community stakeholders on potential for development of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) fueling stations, fleet conversions, and infrastructure across central and northern tier Pennsylvania.

The event, attended by local fleet managers, utilities, and government entities, featured presentations by Patrick Henderson, Energy Executive of the Tom Corbett Administration; Tony Bandiero, Greater Philadelphia Clean Cities; David Ross, EQT, Clean American Transportation Alliance (CATA – Transportation Collaborative); Michael German, Corning Natural Gas; Stephe Yborra, NGVAmerica and the Clean Vehicle Education Foundation; Graham Barker, GLB International; Vince Matteo, Williamsport-Lycoming Chamber of Commerce; Eric Bernier, Centre Area Transit Authority; and Mike Narcavage, Chesapeake Energy.

“[We’ve] sure landed on a topic of significant interest,” said Keith Kuzio, Larson Design Group’s CEO as the day kicked off. Kuzio related that the firm’s core values of community stewardship, learning, and revitalizing the community and economy were reflected in the sharing of information on CNG.

The event covered topics including cost of purchasing natural gas powered vehicles (NGVs); building fueling stations and calculating payback; grants and incentives for CNG; creating pipeline infrastructure utilizing Marcellus Shale gas to foster the local economy and create jobs; running public transportation using CNG; and building American energy independence.

“Marcellus Shale is critical to our economic future and I believe CNG is an important part in the effort to bring family sustaining jobs to Pennsylvania,” said Vince Matteo, President/CEO of the Williamsport-Lycoming Chamber of Commerce.

Stephe Yborra presented the keynote address on Essential Knowledge about CNG Economics, Vehicles and Infrastructure.

“There’s a growing public awareness about America’s energy security and environmental sustainability, which is heightening the interest in natural gas vehicles,” Yborra said. “With more car and truck manufacturers offering a variety of NGVs, we anticipate there will be major growth in this market over the next decade.”

The CNG Education Day’s date coincided with the introduction of legislation that offers implementation of natural gas vehicles (NGVs) and infrastructure across the state and nation. On April 6, state Representative Stan Saylor introduced Marcellus Works in Harrisburg, which creates tax credits and incentives for fleet vehicles and encourages the construction of fueling stations across major travel corridors including the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Recently, President Obama urged legislators to support and pass legislation on the Natural Gas Act, which would provide incentives for purchasing NGVs, installing fueling stations and manufacturing natural gas vehicles in America. The NAT GAS Act of 2011 was also introduced in Congress on April 6.

Patrick Henderson, Energy Executive of the Tom Corbett Administration, related the Administration’s importance of serving as a liaison between state agencies and community groups.

“We’re here to make sure that state agencies are collaborating to help advance a cohesive state energy policy,” he said. “We want to be sure that businesses, as well as environmental and conservation groups, have their voices heard, so that we can create the best energy policy for Pennsylvania.”

Compared to gasoline, CNG offers numerous environmental, sustainable, and economic benefits. Vehicles running on CNG can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 20-30%, carbon monoxide emissions by 70-90%, and reduce particulate emissions by up to 90%*. CNG vehicles also produce up to 22-29% less greenhouse gases compared to diesel and gasoline vehicles, respectively**.

For fleets running repetitive, localized trips, utilizing CNG vehicles can provide a shorter payback than many realize and even recoup purchase costs for additional vehicles. While CNG vehicles cost more to purchase, federal grants can reduce the burden. Added with the lower costs of natural gas compared to its gasoline or diesel energy equivalent, fleets such as solid waste management, entities that utilize box trucks, and transit buses can see CNG paybacks in as little as a year to a few years, depending on the level of usage and maintenance costs.

“Most of the total domestic consumption of natural gas in the U.S. is met by U.S. production, and locally, the Marcellus Shale play is contributing to Pennsylvania’s growing supply. CNG offers an alternative to crude oil which can lead to American energy independence, while building environmental sustainability and local job creation,” said Aron Lantz, Larson Design Group’s Innovation Engineer.

While interest in CNG is growing, Lantz said, the issue is building crucial infrastructure, including fueling stations, to meet demand of new CNG fleets. Eventually, the economic benefits and transportation network will become available to the average consumer. (While there currently are CNG vehicles available to consumers, they are more expensive, and payback take longer based on average use. And without the creation of public fueling stations, normal transportation ranges wouldn’t be available.)

“The next step,” he explained, “is identifying the logical places for fleet fueling stations in our local area and expanding that network over time. For fleets and business owners that have the interest and desire to build or own stations, there are current and potentially new federal incentives out there, as well as a similar interest from other stakeholders in the community. Our objective is to get everyone working together to accomplish the goal of building CNG fueling stations.”

The mission of the CNG Focus Group is to foster learning, collaboration, and action on CNG vehicle fueling and infrastructure on an ongoing basis as it relates to the Marcellus Shale in the North Central Pennsylvania region. The focus group plans to continue building membership and interest in creating CNG fueling locations and building infrastructure.

“Fueling a transportation network with CNG won’t happen overnight,” Lantz said, “but we need to take the crucial first steps to adopting this technology that can benefit the region, the state, and the nation economically by using locally produced natural gas, and environmentally by using a cleaner burning fuel.”

For more information, visit the CNG Focus Group website or contact Aron Lantz, Innovation Engineer at Larson Design Group’s Williamsport office, (570) 323-6603.

*Source: NGVAmerica/DOE/EPA.
**Source: California Energy Commission.

Larson Design Group is a growing, multi-disciplined brand architecture, engineering, and surveying firm, providing innovative design solutions for the private and public sectors. Our staff has diverse knowledge in environmental systems, energy, surveying, site development, structures, transportation, and inspection. Headquartered in Williamsport, other offices include Selinsgrove, Bloomsburg, Lititz, and Bethel, Pennsylvania, and Corning, New York.

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