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Natural Gas Vehicles

Natural Gas Vehicles

Xcel Energy can support your fueling needs

Overview

Xcel Energy supplies electricity and natural gas to power homes and businesses, as well as transportation. Today some of our customers are looking for alternatives to gasoline to fuel their driving needs. Natural gas vehicles are a clean, affordable option that can meet nearly every kind of passenger and commercial transportation need.

About natural gas vehicles

There are two types of natural gas vehicles (NGVs).

Dedicated NGVs operate only on natural gas. Dedicated NGVs generally demonstrate better performance and have lower emissions compared to bi-fuel vehicles because their engines are optimized to run on natural gas alone. Dedicated NGVs are not required to carry two different types of fuel—which means they don’t sacrifice cargo space or carry additional weight.

Bi-fuel NGVs can run on either natural gas or conventional fuel (gasoline or diesel). Bi-fuel vehicles give the driver the advantage of being able to fuel up at a natural gas station or a traditional gas station.

Natural gas fuel must be stored on board a vehicle either as compressed natural gas (CNG) or as liquefied natural gas (LNG). CNG is made by compressing natural gas to less than one percent of its volume at standard atmospheric pressure— up to 3,600 pounds per square inch. This ensures enough fuel is onboard for adequate driving range. LNG is cryogenically cooled to a liquid and stored at -260 degrees Fahrenheit. Because heavily insulated tanks must be used for storing LNG, this form of natural gas is typically used with heavy-duty vehicles that can be centrally fueled, like buses, delivery trucks and refuse trucks.

The benefits of natural gas vehicles

There are many advantages to using natural gas as a transportation fuel:

  • Domestic availability. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, 98 percent of the natural gas used in the United States comes from North America.
  • Lower costs. Like gasoline prices, natural gas prices fluctuate. Natural gas costs are, on average, one-third less than conventional gasoline at the pump and approximately one-half of diesel pump prices. With maintenance costs less than or equal to gas or diesel, NGV lifecycle costs are significantly lower.
  • Reduced environmental impact. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, driving with natural gas reduces vehicle emissions significantly. Natural gas produces up to 95 percent less particulate matter and reduces carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides by more than 90 and 60 percent, respectively. Carbon dioxide can be reduced by up to 40 percent.
  • Safety. Lighter than air, compressed natural gas has a limited combustion ratio (5 to 15 percent) and a high ignition temperature of more than 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The vehicles are required to meet the same safety standards as vehicles fueled with gasoline and diesel, and must meet the National Fire Protection Association’s NFPA 52 Vehicular Fuel System Code.
  • Quiet. NGVs operate at decibel levels that are 80 to 90 percent lower than comparable diesel vehicles.

Use the calculator to compare the fuel costs and emissions of natural gas and gasoline powered vehicles

Fueling with natural gas

Whether you want to fuel a vehicle with natural gas or build a natural gas fueling station, Xcel Energy is here to meet your fueling needs.

CNG Fueling
There are generally two types of fueling equipment for CNG vehicles.

Fast-fill fueling includes a large compressor combined with a high-pressure storage tank. The system fills the tank in about the same time it takes to fuel a comparable petroleum vehicle at seven to 12 gallons per minute. Fast-fill is commonly used for public fueling stations that can be found across the Xcel Energy service territory.

Time-fill fueling does not have a storage system and includes a much smaller compressor. Time-fill typically refuels CNG vehicles overnight at a rate of about one gallon per hour and is typically used for private fleet fueling. The systems work best for vehicles that remain idle overnight, such as delivery vans, refuse trucks and school buses.

LNG Fueling
For LNG fueling, the fuel typically is trucked from the plant that produces it and delivered to the location in a specially designed tank truck and put into cryogenic storage on site.

Residential customers. There are more than 650 public CNG stations across the United States. Locate a fueling station near you. (external)

Fleet customers. Contact your Xcel Energy account manager or our Business Solutions Center at 1-800-481-4700.

Station operators. To make it easier to install a natural gas fueling station, we recently made changes to our policies to include a construction allowance. If you are interested in installing a natural gas fueling station, please contact our Builders Call Line at 1-800-628-2121.

Our experience with natural gas vehicles

Xcel Energy currently drives about 50 natural gas powered cars and trucks as part of our fleet. As the NGV market in Wisconsin continues to grow, we now have a compressed natural gas Honda in La Crosse, as well as several vans and pickup trucks. Most of our NGVs are located in Colorado at service centers where on-site fueling equipment is available. In Colorado, we also have vehicles that are equipped with “quick change” cylinders of compressed natural gas that are used to keep pilot lights running during natural gas service repair work.

Our history with natural gas vehicles or NGVs dates back to the 1970s. In Colorado, we committed to build a fueling infrastructure in Denver and formed an unregulated subsidiary, Natural Fuels Corporation, in 1990. Natural Fuels pursued vehicle conversions and maintenance, technical training, unregulated natural gas sales and fueling station construction and maintenance, including an extensive fueling network at Denver International Airport. After operating a decade, Natural Fuels was sold to Clean Fuels, which operates the fueling stations and retail infrastructure today.

Additional Resources

Contact us

RePoweringTransportation(at)xcelenergy.com
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