New Jersey Natural Gas (NJNG) submitted a filing June 16 with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities seeking authority to invest up to $15 million to build compressed natural gas vehicle refueling stations in Monmouth, Ocean and Morris counties.
If approved, NJNG estimates it could build between seven and ten refueling stations at host company facilities throughout its service territory. The host locations, which could be private companies or public and municipal entities, will use part of each station’s refueling capacity and also make the stations available to the public.
“By building the infrastructure to refuel natural gas vehicles, New Jersey Natural Gas can help stimulate the market for alternative fuel vehicles as well as economic development in our state,” said Laurence M. Downes, chairman and chief executive officer of New Jersey Natural Gas. “Additionally, if we can encourage the use of domestic, competitively priced natural gas as a fuel for transportation, we can begin to reduce our reliance on petroleum-based fuels and move toward greater energy independence. Just as important, projects like this will unlock significant savings for businesses and taxpayers, alike.”
NJNG says it is seeking to promote and develop a strong market for natural gas vehicles in New Jersey by increasing the availability of refueling stations. One of the major obstacles to the increased use of natural gas vehicles has been a lack of refueling infrastructure. Currently, there are only three refueling stations in the state that are open to the public. By growing the state’s refueling infrastructure, NJNG intends to stimulate the entry of natural gas vehicles into fleets within New Jersey.
Increasing the use of natural gas vehicles to meet the state’s transportation needs provides a cost effective and environmentally cleaner choice of fuel. Based on the pricing structure requested in the filing the current fuel price would be approximately $1.60 per gasoline gallon equivalent, a tremendous savings for businesses and individuals. Additionally, natural gas powered vehicles produce up to 30 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than diesel according to the American Gas Association.
This investment will also serve to bolster the economy by creating and retaining both direct and indirect job opportunities. Building new refueling infrastructure provides construction work along with the growth opportunities for equipment manufacturers, and increased demand for natural gas vehicles necessitates increased vehicle production and sale. All of which provides direct and indirect economic benefits for local businesses, stores and suppliers.
If approved by the BPU, NJNG would begin construction of these stations immediately but no later than December 31, 2012. NJNG would submit a cost recovery filing to the BPU in October 2012, requesting a base rate change to be effective early in 2013. Proceeds from the delivery of the associated natural gas, along with any available federal and state incentives, will be credited back to the ratepayers to help offset the cost of this investment. There would be no change to customers’ bills associated with this filing during the 2011-12 winter heating season. The total anticipated impact for the average residential customer from the October 2012 filing would be no more than four-tenths of one percent increase.