Topeka site offering compressed natural gas

Gasoline Prices

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka business has started publicly offering compressed natural gas to some drivers.

Questar Fueling’s, compressed natural gas filling station has been open since October, but opened Thursday to most of the public, said Judd Cook, Questar’s director of business development. Compressed natural gas is chemically the same as the natural gas used for other purposes, said Dennis Brown, CNG specialist for Kansas Gas Service. But he said it’s delivered at a higher pressure and takes up less volume, which means a truck tank can fit more fuel. Natural gas is also cheaper than other fuels and was selling for $1.98 per gallon-equivalent at the Questar station Thursday.

Mayor Larry Wolgast said the city, Go Topeka and Questar worked together to bring one of relatively few natural gas stations in Kansas to the area.

“We’re on the cutting edge,” he said. “By working together, more good things happen.”

Salt Lake City-based Questar won a contract to build and run a station that would serve Frito-Lay’s natural gas-powered truck fleet. Cook said some haulers who work with Target also fuel up there, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported (http://bit.ly/1i2hCAB)

“We hope at some point the Mars facility will decide to use natural gas,” he said. Candy Giant Mars has been operating its first new plant in 35 years in the Topeka area.

Jeff Resch, sales and operations manager for Minnesota-based Dart Transit Co., said tractor-trailers powered by natural gas can cost $30,000 to $70,000 more than diesel-powered ones and get slightly lower mileage. But he said they’re worth the investment because of lower fuel costs.

“At the end of the day the return on investment is there,” he said. “The biggest challenge is more from infrastructure.”

Resch said seven of their trucks are based in Topeka, and Dart also is looking toward natural gas because it is produced in the U.S. and produces less carbon dioxide and fine particulate pollution than diesel.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a sustainable thing because it’s still a fossil fuel, but it is cleaner,” he said.

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