Nopetro plans to build a network of natural gas fueling stations across Florida by 2017. [Photo: AP / Marcio Jose Sanchez]
Business partners Jorge Herrera and Jack Locke are prepared to answer a key question for Floridians considering a switch to alternative transportation fuels: Which comes first, re-engineered fleets or access to the fuels to operate them?
Herrera and Locke have pledged to build Florida's first public natural gas fueling station within the year, in Tallahassee, followed by a network of stations at 12 strategic Florida locations by 2017.
"We'll develop publicly accessible stations, so heavy-duty trucks can transport throughout the state, and provide fuel locally for the community," says
Herrera, CEO of Nopetro, a company he and Locke co-founded in 2008 and recently headquartered in Tallahassee. "Our facilities will provide both LNG, which is liquid natural gas, and CNG, compressed natural gas."
It's important for the public to realize the benefits of natural gas, says Herrera. He estimates LNG, because of its concentrated volume, can enable heavy-duty trucks to travel up to 700 miles before refueling — plus it's 25% cheaper than diesel. CNG, more suitable for buses and autos, is less compact but allows a 250-mile range per tank.
Gas has an estimated 80% less nitrous oxide emissions, and it's abundant — "Our country has the largest natural gas supplies in the world."
Interest in natural gas as an alternative fuel source is gaining ground with both trucking companies and engine manufacturers, say Florida Trucking Association leaders. "This is an option coming to Florida that will provide a template for companies to make decisions about new equipment and fuel sources," says FTA CEO Mary Lou Rajchel. "It's good for trucking companies to have options available to evaluate what's best for them."
Note: Florida has about 19 natural gas fueling stations, but all except one are private, most of them government-operated to serve school buses, public transit and the military. Recently, Wise Gas Inc. in south Florida opened two public-access compressed natural gas pumps at a Fort Lauderdale site, available through use of fuel cards or by appointment; Wise Gas plans additional locations this year. Nopetro’s plans for 12 Florida fueling locations call for building full-service stations providing both compressed natural gas and liquid natural gas.