The company has identified 98 stations so far and expects to have 70 of these open by the end of the year, in 33 states. The rest of the 150 stations (pictured) should open in 2012 or 2013, Clean Energy said.
Major highway segments planned for early opening include those linking San Diego-Los Angeles-Riverside-Las Vegas; the Texas Triangle (Houston-San Antonio-Dallas/Ft. Worth); Los Angeles-Dallas; Houston-Chicago; Chicago-Atlanta; and a network of stations along major highways in the mid-west region (IL, IN, OH, MO, KY, TN, KS, OK, AL) to serve the heavy trucking traffic in the area.
Many of the fueling stations will be co-located at travel centers run by Pilot-Flying J, the country’s largest truck-stop operator.
The company says the stations’ opening will coincide with the expected arrival of new natural gas truck engines well suited for heavy-duty, over-the-road trucking. It says engine manufacturers and original equipment truck manufacturers such as Cummins-Westport, Kenworth, Peterbilt, Navistar, Freightliner and Caterpillar are expected to have Class-8 trucks available in engine sizes allowing for varied road and driving requirements.
Clean Energy president and CEO Andrew Littlefair said the company has engaged over 100 shippers, private fleets and for-hire carriers, which have shared operational information to help Clean Energy plan the highway’s first phase.
Clean Energy says that in 2011 it completed five stations in the network, in addition to 63 natural gas fueling stations in its traditional markets of transit, refuse, airport/taxi/shuttle and local/regional trucking.
In July 2011, natural gas producer Chesapeake Energy Corporation committed an investment of $150 million to Clean Energy to help fund the development of the natural gas highway. In September 2011, a group of international investors committed an additional $150 million, and in December 2011, another $150 million was invested, bringing the total investment in Clean Energy in 2011 for fueling station infrastructure development and other capital projects to $450 million.
Clean Energy says LNG is currently priced up to $1.50 per gallon lower than diesel or gasoline, depending upon local markets, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions by about 23 percent in medium to heavy-duty vehicles.