A natural gas fueling station for consumer vehicles opened in February in North Austin.
CNG 4 America, a Katy-based company, launched its fourth fueling station in the state for fueling vehicles with compressed natural gas, or CNG, at 907 E. St. Johns Ave. Bob Baldwin, president and CEO of CNG 4 America, said the company is planning a grand opening in April.
It is the first CNG fueling station to open in the city that is not primarily meant to serve fleet vehicles, Baldwin said. Pumps similar to those at a conventional gas station can be found at the St. Johns station. Baldwin said CNG has the same amount of energy and is comparable to conventional gasoline in terms of gas mileage.
Cleaner burning than its crude oil-derived counterpart, CNG is classified as an alternative fuel, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. There are 907 CNG fueling stations nationwide, according to the U.S. DOE’s website. Domestically produced, mostly from shale such as Texas’ Marcellus and Eagle Ford formations, only 0.1 percent of natural gas is used for transportation fuel.
Gasoline prices averaged about $1.57 per gallon in Austin on March 8, according to GasBuddy.com. Meanwhile, the state CNG average was $2.09 per gasoline gallon equivalent on that date, according to CNG Now, a website dedicated to information about natural gas as a transportation fuel. But Baldwin said he expects the volatility of crude oil to rear its head while CNG prices are usually stable. He said that could present an opportunity for more people to purchase the few models of commercially available CNG-powered vehicles on the market or convert their vehicle to use CNG.
Baldwin said one barrier of entry to converting to natural gas vehicles is convenience, although the number of available fueling stations has increased during the past few years.
“We have to have more of the fueling stations to convince people to convert, and that’s why we are here,” Baldwin said.