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Calculator Adds up Cost of Nat Gas Switch

The Drive Natural Gas Initiative, a collaboration between utilities and producers, has launched a calculator to help fleet owners analyze the cost of converting vehicles to natural gas.

The Natural Gas Fleet Savings Calculator, which was developed for the American Gas Association by product innovation consulting firm Ricardo, is a spreadsheet-based tool designed to evaluate the total cost of ownership. The calculator includes the cost of financing terms and state incentives.

Fleet owners can determine how much trucking fleets would save by converting from diesel-fuel vehicles to natural gas. The tool also allows users to compare the cost savings of switching from gasoline to natural gas.

It comes pre-loaded with current numbers for natural gas vehicle availability and cost. It also can be customized by fleet managers to include parameters that best describe the kind of vehicles they use and how they use them, the group said.

A number of companies in recent months have added natural gas-powered vehicles to their fleets, or have invested in building out infrastructure to support a natural gas corridor across the US.

For example, motor fuels supplier Gulf Oil added 34 liquefied natural gas trucks to its fleet in August and said it will begin distributing LNG to customers in the transportation sector. In June, Royal Dutch Shell said it would supply LNG to about 100 TravelCenters of America sites and Petro Shopping Centers in the US, beginning in 2013.

GE and Clean Energy Fuels announced in November a collaboration to expand LNG infrastructure, to enable trucks to operate on the fuel across the United States.

Under the deal, Clean Energy will buy two MicroLNG plants from GE Oil & Gas. Each plant, which will support fueling stations along critical transportation corridors, has the capacity to produce 250,000 gallons of LNG per day, GE said.

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