ATLANTA – Natural gas vehicle leaders meeting Nov. 19 said that after making strides in fueling the “return-to-base” trucking market, they would next need to turn their attention to the over-the-road heavy-duty trucking segment.
Now that natural gas is promising to be a fuel in great abundance and known to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, officials in the natural-gas industry have decided they need to concentrate more on marketing the alternative fuel because it’s cheaper than diesel.
“The savings we get using natural gas versus diesel or gas is dramatic,” Hank Linginfelter, executive vice president for AGL Resources, an Atlanta-based energy service company, told a session of more than 1,000 attending the North American Natural Gas Vehicle Conference & Expo. “Now, all we need is a lot of infrastructure and some vehicles.”
But the sense of optimism being expressed at the conference got a dose of reality from a speech by Bill Graves, president of American Trucking Associations.
Graves said he is “bullish” on natural gas and that many ATA members see a great potential for its use in heavy trucking and vehicle shipping.
“But probably the No. 1 thing we’re focused on right now is the issue of cost competitiveness with diesel,” Graves said. “I know there are many people that think it’s a very easy analysis to do.”
Graves said it’s a complex process to pinpoint the savings created by natural gas because fuel surcharges can in some cases narrow the gap between the cost of diesel and natural gas.