Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Smaller companies using more natural gas vehicles

Natural gas has become the fuel of choice for several large companies with vehicle fleets. Now, smaller firms are beginning to catch on to the trend, too.

With a little nudging, companies that don't have their own refueling stations are finding ways to start moving their goods and workers on natural gas.

"The fact that it's $2 a gallon cheaper makes it a no-brainer," said Mike Little, director of transportation for Bryan-based Mid South Baking, which delivers buns and other products to quick-serve restaurants across the South.

On an energy equivalent basis, diesel costs around $3.65 per gallon in Houston, compared with around $2.19 a gallon for natural gas, according to data from AAA and Houston-area natural gas stations. Natural gas has been more than $2 cheaper than diesel at times over the last two years.

Fuel savings that large have meant a lot for The Woodlands-based NewTexPlumbing, said William Collora, who owns the company.

"We can beat the competition with the savings we get on our trucks," Collora said. "We'll be more competitive than they will be, and that's the goal."

National giants including AT&T, UPS, Waste Management and Frito-Lay have committed hundreds of millions of dollars to buying natural gas vehicles. AT&T alone spent $350 million by the end of last year for a fleet of more than 8,200 natural gas vehicles, according to the company.

While big business has been able to invest in building refueling stations and buying vehicles that can benefit from the deep price discounts for natural gas, the option hasn't been as accessible for smaller companies and consumers.

Now, as more natural gas refueling stations are beginning to sprout up in Texas and around the country, the fuel is catching more interest from companies of all sizes.

The number of publicly accessible compressed natural gas refueling stations has jumped by about a third nationwide since 2012, to 664 stations, according to data from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Most fleets run on compressed natural gas. Some long-haul trucks use liquefied natural gas, which is more expensive but also more dense, enabling trucks to carry more of the fuel.

As early adopters begin enjoying the benefits of natural gas, other companies may follow suit, said Mark Gamber, a Houston account manager for Clean Energy Fuels Corp., which owns refueling stations nationwide.

"It's the whole snowball effect," Gamber said. "As a fleet starts to do it, their competitors see that they're doing it and they look at why they are doing it."

Smaller companies using more natural gas vehicles 02/10/14 [Last modified: Monday, February 10, 2014 8:12pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. No toll lanes north of downtown Tampa in three of four interstate proposals


    TAMPA — Express lanes may not be coming to downtown Tampa after all. Or at least not to the stretch of Interstate 275 that goes north through Bearss Avenue.

    Seminole Heights resident Kimberly Overman discusses the new interstate options with V.M. Ybor resident Chris Vela (left), Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp and HNTB consultant Chloe Coney during a Tampa Bay Express meeting Monday night at the Barrymore Hotel. [CAITLIN JOHNSTON  |  Times]
  2. Trump associate Roger Stone to talk to House panel in Russia probe


    WASHINGTON — The House intelligence panel will interview two of President Donald Trump's associates behind closed doors this week as congressional committees step up their investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

    Roger Stone talks to reporters outside a courtroom in New York this past March. The House intelligence panel will interview Stone behind closed doors Tuesday as congressional committees step up their investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Fformer Trump staffer Boris Epshteyn also will talk to the House panel. [Associated Press]
  3. Pinellas commission set to discuss next budget, licensing board

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER –– The Pinellas County Commission will be busy on Tuesday.

  4. Romano: Sure, let's trust a board with no professionalism, transparency or ethics

    Local Government

    So, if you've been following the bureaucratic carnage:

  5. St. Petersburg mayor's debate: Rick vs. Rick 2.0 starts tonight


    ST. PETERSBURG — Rick Kriseman and Rick Baker are getting back together.

    Former Mayor Rick Baker (left) is challenging incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman in St. Petersburg's mayoral election. These photos were taken during the July 25 televised debate. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]