By Walt Frank
DUNCANSVILLE - Local motorists and businesses who would like to drive natural gas-powered vehicles soon will have a place to fill 'em up.
AR Natural Gas Fueling Systems of Altoona announced plans Tuesday to install a compressed natural gas filling station on property owned by Imler's Poultry along Route 764 near here.
"We are looking at the first quarter of next year to be up and running," said partner Aaron C. Ritchey. "The No. 1 question people have is where will I fill up? We are providing that."
Using natural gas in a vehicle can provide significant savings.
"By using natural gas, you can save 20 to 30 percent on your fuel costs," Ritchey said. "A lot of materials are delivered to us by trucks. When you lower their fuel costs, that means savings to everyone."
Doug Thomson, vice president of EcoDual, Beaufort, S.C., was on hand to explain the technology that enables vehicles to run on natural gas.
"We have the technology to run on a combination of diesel and natural gas to save money," Thomson said.
He said there are two advantages to running on a dual fuel system - a mix of about 40 percent diesel fuel and 60 percent natural gas.
"You still have the same power and torque as diesel, you get the same power and performance, and if you run out of natural gas, you can run on diesel. There is not a risk that you will run dead on the road," Thomson said.
He noted the cost to convert a tractor trailer to run on the dual fuel system is about $30,000, but the conversion pays for itself in 12 to 18 months on the energy dollars saved.
"We want to let fleet owners know they can put in the technology, which can reduce their fuel costs 20 to 30 percent," Ritchey said. "The key component is to get the technology in the hands of the end users. The vehicle technology is here."
Ritchey said Peoples Natural Gas is cooperating with his company to get the fill station up and running.
Using natural gas in their vehicles would provide more price stability for businesses, said Lutitia A. Clipper, natural gas vehicle specialist for Peoples Natural Gas.
State Sen. John H. Eichelberger Jr, R-Blair, called the station one of the best projects he has seen in the area for a long time.