BIRMINGHAM, AL --- Alagasco, a natural gas utility company that's a part of energy giant Energen Corp., said it has acquired four new natural gas Honda Civic GX sedans for its fleet. 

The Honda Civic GX is a dedicated compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicle that operates exclusively on clean, efficient natural gas. 

"Natural gas vehicles can improve air quality while reducing our dependence on foreign oil," said James McManus, chairman and CEO of Energen Corp., the parent company of Alagasco. "Alagasco is the largest distributor of natural gas in Alabama and is working locally and nationally to promote domestically produced, clean-burning, energy-efficient natural gas as part of the solution to our nation's energy challenges." 

The Birmingham area has historically faced air-quality issues associated with ground level ozone and particle pollution, so natural gas vehicles are a viable alternative.   According to the Energy Information Administration, 25 percent of Alabama's carbon dioxide pollution comes from transportation. 

More than 80 percent of the natural gas used in the United States is domestically produced, making the country less dependent on foreign oil.  

Natural gas vehicles (NGVs) are most practical in fleets because fleets generally operate several vehicles that are centrally maintained and travel more miles daily than typical passenger cars. For example, the Birmingham Jefferson County Transit Authority operates 47 natural gas buses and 13 natural gas trolleys in the Birmingham metro area.

Compressed natural gas can be purchased at public refueling stations. CNG is currently available, upon approval, at the transit authority's station at 8th Avenue North and 31st Street in downtown Birmingham.  

CNG can also be distributed at home with a vehicle refueling appliance, such as the Phill by Fuelmaker. The Phill unit compresses and feeds natural gas from a home's natural gas line directly to the NGV. 

According to NGVAmerica, there are more than 120,000 natural gas vehicles on U.S. roads today and more than 7.7 million worldwide.