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Aqua Sees ‘Quick Payback’ with CNG

June 1, 2012 in CNG, Fleet Order, NGVs by Rich Piellisch  |  No Comments

Proclaiming natural gas to be “Pennsylvania’s biggest economic driver since coal and steel,” Bryn Mawr-based Aqua America said last week that it will begin switching its own fleet over to CNG, and will set up a slow-fill fueling installation at its Springfield Operations Center in Delaware County, west of Philadelphia.

Aqua America has three more CNG-fueled GMC Savana vans on order and plans to test the new bi-fuel pickup as well. The Pennsylvania water-provider has also ordered two CNG-fueled Freightliner M2 dump trucks.

“I also see this as an opportunity to create demand for this clean burning fuel, which is currently priced right because of the current surplus,” Aqua chairman and CEO Nicholas DeBenedictis said in a release.

“The relatively small, required up-front investment has a quick payback, which accrues to benefit ratepayers through reduced expenses,” DeBenedictis said. “With anticipated cost of about $2 per gallon, it can be nearly half the cost of fossil fuel with gasoline currently priced at about $3.65 per gallon and diesel fuel being about $4 per gallon. Further, the operating costs are 30-to-50% less expensive.”

Aqua has deployed a GMC Savana van upfitted by Impco Automotive and is awaiting delivery of three more, says fleet and materials manager Charlie Stevenson. Aqua views them as full OEM vehicles, purchased through Faulkner GMC in West Chester, Pa. Aqua plans to test GM’s new bi-fuel pickup (like the dedicated-CNG vans to be upfitted by Impco) when it becomes available late in the year.

Water Pipeline, Meanwhile, Reduces Truck Trips

The water provider also has ordered two compressed natural gas-fueled Freightliner M2 112 dump trucks with 8.9-liter Cummins Westport ISL G engines from Freightliner of Philadelphia, Stevenson told F&F last week. The price premium is approximately $50,000, but Stevenson notes that Aqua’s dump trucks are the biggest fuel users in its fleet.

Plans are in place for 20 more CNG dump trucks and 60 vans, with additional passenger vehicles deployed as OEM offerings increase, Aqua says.

Aqua has arranged with Peco Energy to fuel at Peco’s Berwyn, Plymouth Meeting, Eddystone and Phoenixville locations as it develops its own CNG station at Springfield. Silvio DeAngelo is assistant fleet manager at Aqua.

Aqua America (NYSE:WTR) serves almost 3 million residents in Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina, Illinois, Texas, New Jersey, Indiana, Florida, Virginia, and Georgia.

Also in support of natural gas in Pennsylvania, Aqua and partners are building pipelines to deliver water for fracking operations. In just one month of operation an 18-mile pipeline serving Marcellus Shale producers in north-central Pennsylvania has “eliminated more than 2,000 water truck trips over rural roadways,” Aqua says.

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