More than 112,000 vehicles run on compressed natural gas (CNG) in the United States, the majority of which are commercial fleets, according to the Department of Energy, and those motorists now have one more place to fill up in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission officials Thursday unveiled three CNG fueling stations at the New Stanton Plaza in Westmoreland County. It is the first of the turnpike’s 17 plazas to offer the alternative fuel and is only accessible for westbound travelers.
Mark Compton, Turnpike Commission CEO, said about 17,500 westbound vehicles pass through the New Stanton corridor every day, with about one-third being commercial.
“That’s why we, and our partnership with Sunoco, picked New Stanton to start with because, with their needs, it’s an opportunity for us to maintain our existing customer base on the commercial side, and hopefully with this, expand our customer base,” Compton said.
One pump is for commercial vehicles, another for passenger vehicles, while the third is outside the plaza for off-turnpike drivers. These are Sunoco’s first CNG stations in the state since the 1990s.
“This really is the future for Pennsylvania, where regionally produced low-cost resources [provide] a cleaner burning fuel for our customers to use,” Jeff Shields, a Sunoco spokesperson, said.
Made up of mostly methane, CNG is clear, odorless, tasteless and non-corrosive. The fuel is propelled through a hose and into a car or truck just like gasoline, but drivers of CNG vehicles pay a little less at the pump. The gas costs $1.99 per gasoline gallon equivalent at the plaza.
Shields said this will be the first of many CNG refueling stations across the state.
“We’re ready to expand here if necessary,” he said. “We’re built for expansion if necessary and we think that’s a bright future for everyone.”