Push is on to Fuel Vehicles with Natural Gas

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WILLIAMSPORT -- A natural gas boom in Pennsylvania is not only helping to heat homes, but it can also help fuel cars and trucks.

The push is on to get companies to switch to natural gas vehicles and to build fueling stations.

CNG stands for compressed natural gas. These days, it's cheaper than gasoline you use in whatever you drive, and the hope is to make CNG the fuel of the future for cars and trucks in Pennsylvania.

Marc Schefsky of Genetti Hotel and Suites showed off the company's new shuttle van outside the natural gas vehicle seminar at Penn College in Williamsport.

In the tank of that van is compressed natural gas, or CNG, and Schefsky said it's saving the hotel on fuel costs, but for now, there's nowhere close by to gas up.

“Right now we're taking it to State College. We're going to have to trailer it to State College next week, we hope one more time,” said Schefsky.

Local companies and the state hope to change all that with incentives for converting fleets to CNG, from hotel shuttle vans to city transit buses.

Newswatch 16 got a look at the first natural gas-fueled bus in the River Valley Transit's fleet in the city of the Williamsport. It's the first of many as they transition to natural gas. They're going to install a CNG station to fuel natural gas vehicles for the whole region.

“It gets us in the CNG market, public can fuel at our facility. It gets them benefiting from Marcellus Shale, not only domestic product, but a commonwealth product, local product,” said Kevin Kilpatrick of River Valley Transit.

Over the next decade, officials at River Valley Transit said they plan to replace all 30 buses with natural gas-fueled buses, and by this time next year, the CNG station should be online at the facility along West Third Street and open to the public to use like any other gas station.

The same goes for the Wayne Township landfill in Clinton County. Plans are in the works to convert more than a dozen vehicles to CNG, and landfill general manager Jay Alexander promises a fueling station should be open and ready for business.

“The design set up is card swipe, credit card or fleet fueling card, so anybody will be able to use it. You won't have to be connected to us,” said Alexander.

Of course, the abundance of natural gas in the Marcellus Shale is the driving force behind the effort to fuel vehicles with CNG.

You know what you're paying for regular unleaded gas. The natural gas equivalent in State College is $2.16.

To find out more about the natural gas vehicle incentives click here.