Natural Gas – Conversions, Vehicles and Technology

Connecticut Leads LNG Revolution on East Coast

May 2014, Green Fleet Magazine - Feature

by Ernest Tucker, National Renewable Energy Lab

The GNHCCC manages a combined LNG- and CNG-fueling facility.
The GNHCCC manages a combined LNG- and CNG-fueling facility.

The Greater New Haven Clean Cities Coalition (GNHCCC) is helping boost the use of alternative fuels in fleets not only in Connecticut, but throughout New England’s busy transportation corridor.
“We basically started a whole liquefied natural gas (LNG) fleet operation in the Northeast with our stakeholder Enviro Express,” said Lee Grannis, coordinator of GNHCCC.

Grannis has the perspective to know about the progress, having launched the GNHCCC in 1995, and taking the reins as coordinator in 1997. The coalition has worked steadily to build ties with fleets and other stakeholders, cutting petroleum use in the Nutmeg State and beyond. For his efforts, Grannis was inducted into the national Clean Cities Hall of Fame in 2012.

The Hall of Famer serves as the lead on the $29 million Connecticut Future Fuels project, which is deploying 269 alternative-fuel vehicles (AFV) and supporting fueling infrastructure, including the first LNG station east of the Mississippi. As a direct result of the project, the number and type of AFVs has since doubled in the state, which now includes LNG, compressed natural gas (CNG), and a few hybrid vehicles. As part of the initiative, the coalition managed the $6.2 million Enviro Express combined LNG- and CNG-fueling facility established in 2010, which is adjacent to Interstate 95 in Bridgeport.

“The station really is something unprecedented,” Grannis said. “With the help of the U.S. Department of Energy, we have initiated an entirely new fueling infrastructure, serving Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania.”

This was a hallmark advance in the availability of alternative fuels in the Northeast, and is considered a showcase, which is open to both fleets and the general public.

Keeping a Vision Rolling

In his role as GNHCCC coordinator, Grannis also collaborated with Yale University as well as the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to transition Yale’s vehicle fleet to a cleaner AFV fleet. Coalition work continues to expand the use of alternative fuels in school buses. Recently, school districts in Torrington and Shelton have converted to propane-autogas buses. Grannis’ affinity for the alternative-fuel buses is no surprise. He noted the coalition was instrumental in providing the first funding to start Proterra, Inc. The project got the company rolling in 2004 as a fuel cell bus manufacturer, and the firm subsequently grew into an all-electric fast-charge bus company.

A key tactic is spreading the word especially through fleet managers, something Grannis has a lot of experience with during nearly two decades of outreach. “We talk to stakeholders all the time, providing various levels of information,” Grannis said. Up and down the Northeast, heavy-duty trucking operators, school districts, municipalities, and others continue to listen to Grannis’ message, cutting petroleum use and harmful emissions in one of the most densely populated parts of the nation.

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