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Development & Transportation

Business Interest Group Encourages Use of Natural Gas Vehicles

The Allegheny Conference on Community Development has released a report touting the economic benefits of converting fleets to natural gas. ACCD spokesman Ken Zapinski said the cost differential between oil and natural gas is setting records. "In terms of the price differential, and based on new reserves coming online for natural gas," Zapinski said, "the projections from the Energy Information Administration are that gas is going to stay significant for decades to come."

Zapinski said it does not make sense for all fleets to convert to natural gas. For example, he pointed out that school buses do not travel far enough to recoup the cost of converting to natural gas. But the report, titled "Encouraging Natural Gas Vehicles in Pennsylvania," suggests for trash-collecting trucks, using natural gas would make sense.

"They're big, they're heavy, they use a lot of fuel, they leave from a central yard and come back. Those are the ones that really benefit the most, or are the easiest to turn around, and that's why you see companies like Waste Management converting to natural gas," said Zapinski.

The ACCD website has two calculators that allow users to determine if it makes economic sense to switch to natural gas for their personal vehicle, or for a fleet.

Zapinski also noted that while there are environmental benefits to burning natural gas instead of oil, without a massive conversion to natural gas, it would not substantially reduce the country's emissions.