Guest Post: UGI Purchase of Natural Gas Vehicles

UGI Utilities, Inc. is a natural gas and electric utility company that serves 45 Pennsylvania counties and more than 570,000 natural gas customers. UGI Utilities is a subset of the UGI Corporation which also runs UGI Energy Services, Alternative Fuel and AmeriGas.

This past week, we had the pleasure of interviewing Myles Powell, Engineer of New Technologies about UGI’s decision to convert their fleet to run on compressed natural gas.

 

What made UGI decide that it was time to switch over to compressed natural gas vehicles?

UGI Utilities has consistently been a proponent of natural gas vehicles and has promoted the technology through collaboration with industry and municipal partners.  UGI has operated natural gas-powered vehicles as part of its fleet in the past, and recently made the decision to invest in 10 new bi-fuel utility vans.

 

How long will the conversion process take?

The new bi-fuel vehicles are expected to enter the UGI fleet over the coming heating season.

 With a conversion of this size, how much money does UGI expect the community will save?

UGI expects to realize a cost reduction in fuel expense while the vehicles are running on CNG.  In addition, the company expects to see reduced maintenance expenses due to the reduced ‘wear and tear’ experienced by CNG use in engines as compared to use of gasoline.  UGI and the communities it serves will also benefit from the lower carbon ‘foot-print’ of the vehicles when they burn CNG.

 

These vehicles will be bi-fuel; why so?

There are two issues that impacted the decision to acquire bi-fuel vehicles.  The first is that the manufacturer had more choice in vehicle type and shorter delivery time-frames for bi-fuel version of vehicles than is available for a dedicated CNG vehicle.  The second reason is that while UGI plans to burn CNG in these vehicles to the greatest degree possible, they will be on-call at all hours and could be dispatched to service areas a significant distance from available CNG refueling stations.

 

What kind of incentives are there for switching to natural gas vehicles?

As of August 28, 2014, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) rolled out the third round of ACT 13 Natural Gas Vehicle Grants. The Natural Gas Vehicle grant can cover up to 50% of the incremental purchase or retrofit cost per vehicle, with a maximum total of $25,000 per vehicle.

In addition, the Alternative Fuels Incentive Grant program makes available $1,000 for new compressed natural gas vehicles.

A complete listing of grants, rebate programs, and other incentives can be found on the DEP’s website.

 And lastly, if the public wants to find out more about natural gas vehicles, who should they reach out to?

We are proud to be a supporter of natural gas vehicles and we encourage those who are looking for more information to contact us.  Individuals interested in more information about using natural gas as a vehicle fuel can visit the UGI website: www.ugi.com and click on the ‘Gas for Business‘ tab and then select ‘Natural Gas Vehicles’ from the drop-down menu.  Interested individuals can also send a specific question to UGI at this email address: ngv@ugi.com.

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Kelsie Augustin

Kelsie Augustin grew up in St. Louis, Missouri and Boardman, Ohio. She is studying Business Management at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, PA. She is currently the External Affairs Intern at Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation where she works event planning, content creating, and writing up business communications.

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