August 15, 2017
TruStar Energy CNG, the Coalition’s newest member, is on a mission to take the risk and burden out of adding natural gas trucks to a company’s fleet. TruStar, which has built more than 160 CNG fueling stations across the U.S., wants to expand the market for natural gas fuels by making them more accessible and affordable for California’s smaller trucking operators.
“Secondary markets have been overlooked. It hasn’t made sense financially for smaller fleets to get into CNG without major commitments and risk,” said Aaron Lay, TruStar’s vice president of sales and marketing. “But by offering a smaller, modular CNG fueling station, we can make alternative fuels affordable and convenient for operators of all sizes.”
Last month, TruStar introduced the Compact Fueling Station (CFS), which aims to remove the major barrier to CNG adoption for smaller companies: cost. Installing a private CNG station is too expensive for these cash-strapped operators, and fueling up at public stations is not an appealing alternative, Lay said. Retail CNG costs more than CNG bought in large volumes at a fleet’s private station, and companies have to pay employees to drive to a public station, wait in line, and stay with the truck while it’s filling up.
Customers pay only for fuel
TruStar pays for and maintains the CFS; the customer pays only for fuel. There is a minimum fuel requirement: qualifying customers must consume at least 200,000 gges annually, which can translate to a fleet as small as five trucks each running on 150 gges per day.
“The CFS is designed to help smaller trucking operations, drayage fleets, municipalities, and refuse companies transition to CNG at a lower cost and with the benefits of a private station,” said Lay.
The CFS modules are built in TruStar’s Rancho Cucamonga manufacturing facility, and can be installed on site within six months. They can be configured in a multitude of ways to fit into even very small footprints, as long as the location has utility services. The CFS is available with two or three compressors and can support up to 30 trucks.
TruStar Energy has also added RNG as a fuel option. “Offering RNG has been vital to help grow the adoption of NGVs in California. Not only does it help the state meet its air quality and sustainability goals, it also will benefit the end users, who can maximize incentive funding,” said Lay.
Program helps fleets maximize CNG benefits
TruStar has also launched a CNG Fleet Development Program to help companies assess their CNG fuel needs, use the CFS to design pilot programs, and build larger CNG fleets as the use of the alternative fuel expands. Through this program, TruStar will help operators determine how many trucks they need and how much CNG they must use to realize cost savings. For instance, the program may determine that a larger truck operator can start by replacing a minimal number of vehicles in its fleet to get the benefits of moving to CNG. The program can help fleets maximize their savings with CNG and expand CNG use to new sites, and it is free apart from the cost of the CNG fuel.
“We want to show customers that CNG works. With this CNG Fleet Development Program, they can experience the benefits of CNG without having to take on all the financial burden and risk,” explained Lay. “We want customers to be able to grow into CNG.”
Advocating for infrastructure expansion
According to Lay, TruStar joined the Coalition to help spread the message about the financial and environmental benefits of using natural gas fuels, as well as to support increased incentive funding for infrastructure projects.
“With California’s aggressive air quality mandates, not all of the burden can go on the end users—we need to increase funding opportunities for trucks and infrastructure,” said Lay.
“By helping subsidize the cost of fueling stations, more customers will move to natural gas,” he added. “Decrease the impact on customers, make it more convenient to fuel up with CNG and RNG with more stations, and they’re more apt to switch technologies.”
Photo ©Westport Innovations, used by permission