Giant Eagle Inc. today opened two compressed natural gas fueling stations in Crafton, saying the fuel offers a cheaper, cleaner and quieter alternative to gasoline for motorists in Western Pennsylvania.
Officials from the O'Hara-based grocery chain, accompanied by Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato and state Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Michael Krancer, demonstrated the company's first fueling station for its fleet of 10 new CNG-equipped Volvo delivery trucks.
Giant Eagle also opened the region's first CNG fueling station for public customers at its distribution center on Beechnut Drive.
"We are dedicated to doing business in the most sustainable manner possible across all of our business operations,” Giant Eagle Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer John Lucot said in a statement.
Compressed natural gas is obtained from domestic wells or during crude oil production and is used by more than 12 million vehicles around the world, according to the industry website CNGNow!
Only 110,000 of those vehicles are used by U.S. motorists, although that number is growing by about 3.7 percent each year in the United States, according to CNGNow! Industry officials say the number of motorists using CNG worldwide is growing by 30.6 percent annually, and they maintain more motorists would make the switch if more fueling stations were available to accommodate them.
CNG typically is priced lower than gasoline and diesel. It also reduces emissions of particulate matter, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide emissions and carbon dioxide emissions, according to the International Association for Natural Gas Vehicles.
Giant Eagle’s 10 new CNG delivery trucks are expected to displace more than 100,000 gallons of diesel fuel in their first year of use, company officials said. The company worked with Volvo to design the heavy-duty trucks, which are equipped with 8.9-liter Cummins engines and other modifications to navigate Western Pennsylvania's hilly terrain, Vice President of Logistics Bill Parry said.
Onorato and Krancer said the stations should help to increase visibility and encourage adoption of CNG use in the region, where Marcellus Shale gas drilling is becoming increasingly widespread.
“We have a great opportunity now to create future jobs with a new industry right here in Western Pennsylvania,” Onorato said.
"Pennsylvania should be a leader in CNG expansion, and CNG-powered vehicles can become a big part of Pennsylvania's clean air strategy," Krancer said. "We should all look for opportunities for Pennsylvania to become a leader in the CNG fueling sector."
CNG is sold in gasoline gallon equivalents, with each GGE having the same energy content as a gallon of gas. Giant Eagle officials said they expect to price the fuel between $1.90 and $2 per GGE. Its self-service station for the public will be open around the clock and will accept credit cards.