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December 25, 2013

Natural gas fill-ups coming to trucking company's Richland terminal

— A local trucking company switching its truck fleet to natural gas will be able to refuel at its Richland terminal soon.

And so will the public, W.C. McQuaide Inc.’s Rick McQuaide said.

McQuaide, the company’s vice-president of business development, said the company plans to add a multi-pump compressed natural gas fueling station at its Richland Township facility by spring. By that point, 15 of its 75 diesel trucks will be replaced by ones running on the compressed gas.

“Weather permitting, we hope to get started as soon as possible,” he said.

The Richland Township company is making the switch partly through a $500,000 state grant created by Marcellus Shale impact fees. But McQuaide said the company has a long list of reasons to shift to natural gas.

One of the biggest “is right under our feet,” he said.

“The gas is here,” he said, referring to the Marcellus Shale and other pockets of natural gas in Pennsylvania. “We’ll be purchasing it from this state instead of getting it from overseas.”

The fuel will come at a price that is often half of the cost for an equivalent tank of diesel, McQuaide said.

“Gas mileage with diesel and natural gas is relatively the same – but you’re pretty much cutting fuel prices in half by switching to natural gas,” McQuaide said, noting the natural gas market also is much more stable,  another important factor for the trucking industry.

He expects the new fuel will lower fleet maintenance bills because the compressed gas burns cleaner than diesel, which has a higher carbon content.

“We’re solving a variety of problems by going to natural gas,’ he said.

McQuaide said his company will service the natural gas vehicles at its Vo-Tech Drive site.

McQuaide’s trucking and warehouse division employs 250 people, he said.

The Richland Township Planning Commission approved W.C. McQuaide Inc.’s plans earlier this month to add the fueling station on the property Plans by Dayton, Ohio-based CESO Inc. show two pumps will be added on McQuaide’s property near the Vo-Tech Drive side of the facility. An entrance will allow McQuaide’s fleet to access the pumps from the road.

McQuaide said the public will be able to use the pumps as motorists and other businesses begin switching to natural gas.

Only a few car manufacturers offer compressed natural gas vehicles, but a growing number of companies relying on trucking and heavy equipment are making the switch.

The nation’s largest trash hauler, Waste Management, has primarily been purchasing natural gas-fueled models during the past few years, with a plan to have most of its fleet compressed gas-reliant by 2017.

In an October press release, the company announced plans to fuel some of its Illinois trucking operations through pipeline-ready natural gas created at one of its landfills.

McQuaide said he expects the addition of fueling locations such as his will entice other companies to begin switching their trucks to compressed natural gas. He said he’s met with several companies about the possibility of serving their fleets  – or consulting with them about adding their own natural gas pumps.

“Availability is the key,” he said. “A few years ago, you didn’t see a natural gas fueling station anywhere. Now, we’re seeing them on the major interstates. The major truck stops have them in their plans.

“The demand ... is going to continue to grow. And that’s a good thing,” he said, noting his company plans to continue shifting its fleet away from diesel. “The more CNG trucks we can get on the road, the better.”

David Hurst covers Richland Township for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/tddavidhurst.

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