Natural Gas – Conversions, Vehicles and Technology

Green Home Alabama

May 2013, Green Fleet Magazine - Feature

by By Julie Sutor, National Renewable Energy Laborato

The City of Trussville, Ala., fuels its 40 CNG fleet vehicles at this Chevron station. The city-owned utility supplies natural gas to the station, which is open to the public.
The City of Trussville, Ala., fuels its 40 CNG fleet vehicles at this Chevron station. The city-owned utility supplies natural gas to the station, which is open to the public.

Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition Executive Director Mark Bentley prides himself on being able to turn lemons into lemonade. And, when it comes to his state’s reliance on petroleum, he can’t help but start squeezing.

Bentley has spent nearly seven years at the helm of Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition (ACFC), which assists fleets and consumers in the adoption of alternative fuels, advanced vehicles, idle reduction, and fuel economy improvements. In 2011, ACFC stakeholders saved more than 2.4 million gallons of petroleum. Prior to his involvement there, Bentley crisscrossed the U.S. and Europe for 47 years as a marketing guru and entrepreneur, building business acumen that heavily informs his approach at ACFC.

“I conduct education about alternative fuels all over Alabama and beyond,” Bentley said. “Everything we do has to be a good business proposition for whoever we’re talking to. One of our roles is to bring together all the available local and national resources to provide positive economic and environmental outcomes.”

ACFC recently participated in the grand opening of a BlendStar renewable fuels terminal in Birmingham, Ala., which will significantly improve the economics of ethanol deployment in the Southeast. Prior to the terminal’s opening, a train hauling ethanol from the Midwest would take a week to unload. Now, a 96-car train can be unloaded in a single day. ACFC assisted in the early stages of the terminal’s development process, facilitating dialogue about the project with the local community.

Just northeast of Birmingham, ACFC worked with the City of Trussville, Ala., on a public-private partnership to offer publicly accessible compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling infrastructure. The city-owned utility supplies the natural gas, and a local Chevron station houses a fast-fill dispenser. The city fleet has 40 CNG vehicles that fuel at the site, with plans for more in the future.

“We have 72 independent gas utilities in the state. It’s a phenomenal business proposition for them to install a natural gas fueling infrastructure,” Bentley said.

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