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Imagine paying 99 cents a gallon for vehicle fuel that is also supposed to reduce maintenance costs.
The projected cost savings of using compressed natural gas (CNG) over gasoline and diesel fuels caught the attention of Hardin County leaders and local industry officials on Thursday in Kenton.
That also sparked their interest in the possible development of a CNG fueling station in the city.
In a meeting facilitated by the Hardin County Economic Development Office, representatives from Clean Fuels Ohio, Kaiser CNG and Dominion East Ohio Gas were on hand to discuss the idea. The closest operating CNG fueling station is in Columbus.
Commissioner Ron Wyss said he attended an energy conference last year in Columbus during which Gov. John Kasich encouraged government to provide the leadership to make the growth of CNG fueling stations happen.
A big reason is the news that Ohio has a 30-year supply of natural gas that can be drawn from the ground to supply the stations.
Wyss said one way Hardin County could benefit is through a vehicle now used at the transfer station for eight hours a day. It now costs $35,000 annually for fuel. But if the county would purchase a new truck that uses CNG, it would save about $15,000 a year on fuel costs.
He said the county has been putting off buying a new truck because of its interest in CNG.
But an even bigger beneficiary would appear to be the Precision Strip plant in the city.
Jim Lammers of Precision Strip said his company has 35 trucks based out of Kenton that run 24 hours a day on diesel fuel that sells for just less than $4 per gallon. For just one CNG-fueled vehicle, it would save the company an anticipated $45,000 to $50,000 a year.
“I’m ready to buy a CNG vehicle,” he said. “I just want to see how it works with our application.”
He said the company now quotes customers a rate and can add a fuel surcharge if the price of diesel jumps, but the company never recovers all of the increase.
But it’s not only Precision Strip’s trucks that could benefit, but the trucks from steel companies that bring in steel for processing in Kenton. Lammers said about 180 trucks arrive daily at Precision Strip.
“Our hope is we can make natural gas work,” Lammers said. “There is a lot of potential on the revenue side because of all that truck traffic.”
Representatives from Kaiser CNG said using CNG will double the engine life, extend the time between oil changes and reduce other maintenance expenses.
Development of a CNG fueling station would cost about $1.5 million and take six to eight months of more to complete. Before officials would take that step, they would like a study of Hardin County to see if there is enough interest to proceed with a project. Wyss would like to share the cost of the study, estimated at $5,000 to $10,000, with those interested in a CNG fueling station.
One Hardin County industry is already benefitting by the growth of CNG. State Rep. Robert Sprague, R-Findlay, said Kenton Iron Products has seen a 75 percent increase in its business to supply parts for natural gas compressors made by Ariel in Mount Vernon.
John Hohn, director of economic development, said he believes “Kenton is positioned perfectly in northwest Ohio to make this happen.” He said the city is a connection point for trucks headed to Columbus.
Any business or industry interested in pursuing the CNG fueling station opportunity can contact Hohn at the Hardin County Chamber and Business Alliance, 419-673-4131 or email email@example.com.
By TIM THOMAS