New Stanton turnpike plaza 1st to offer compressed natural gas

New Stanton turnpike plaza 1st to offer compressed natural gas 

Motorists who drive vehicles that use compressed natural gas can fill up at the New Stanton plaza of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

Turnpike commission officials kicked off the opening of three CNG fueling dispenser stations at the plaza.

The New Stanton plaza is the first of the commission’s 17 plazas to offer the fuel.

“It’s an outstanding day and supports what we’ve been trying to do the last 75 years: to push for innovation,” said Mark Compton, chief executive officer.

Turnpike officials picked the New Stanton plaza for the kickoff because one-third of vehicles using the toll corridor are commercial, Compton said.

The dispensers — one for passenger vehicles, one for commercial vehicles and one situated outside the plaza gate for use by off-turnpike vehicles — are Sunoco’s first compressed natural gas offering in Pennsylvania since the 1990s, officials said.

CNG consists mostly of methane and is odorless, colorless and tasteless. It is drawn from domestically drilled natural gas wells or in conjunction with crude oil production.

“This really is the future of Pennsylvania,” Sunoco spokesman Jeffrey Shields said.

About 112,000 vehicles depend on CNG nationwide, according to the Department of Energy. Worldwide, it powers 14.8 million vehicles.

A motorist will pay $1.99 for compressed natural gas per gasoline gallon equivalent at the service plaza — for on- and off-turnpike fueling.

To fill up, a motorist uses a hose — it’s similar to any found at a gasoline station — and pushes the end into place on the vehicle.

“It’s safe, it’s abundant and it’s reliable,” said Lutitia Clipper of Peoples Natural Gas.

She drove to the presentation in a Honda Civic powered by compressed natural gas.

Honda is the only company now making passenger vehicles fueled by compressed gas, but others will soon follow, said Rick Price, executive director of the Pittsburgh Region Clean Cities.

Owners can purchase a kit to convert vehicles to CNG.

Businesses are the biggest users of natural gas vehicles, especially for large trucks, transit buses and garbage trucks, Price said. One out of every two trash trucks coming off assembly lines uses CNG, he said.

Business owners like using natural gas for economic and environmental reasons, he said.

The three Westmoreland County commissioners and Sen. Kim Ward, a Hempfield Republican, attended the presentation.

“This is a great day not only for Westmoreland County but the state of Pennsylvania … and our nation,” said county Commissioner Charles Anderson. “We need to take advantage of this, and I can see this as a great beginning.”

He said Westmoreland County transit buses could be possible CNG users.

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