Giant Eagle Inc. has introduced its first two compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling stations, one for delivery vehicles and one for cars. Both stations are located at the regional grocer’s Beechnut Drive retail support and distribution center in the greater Pittsbugh area.
On Thursday, Giant Eagle officials demonstrated the cutting-edge CNG technology by fueling one of the company's brand-new custom-equipped delivery trucks, in addition to passenger vehicles at the area’s first publicly accessible CNG fueling station.
“We are dedicated to doing business in the most sustainable manner possible across all of our business operations,” explained John Lucot, EVP and COO of Pittsburgh-based Giant Eagle, which operates 170 corporate and 58 independently owned and operated supermarkets, along with 162 fuel and convenience stores in western Pennsylvania, Ohio, north central West Virginia and Maryland. “Our efforts have been greatly advanced with the help of others, and we give thanks to the local and state officials here today as well as to our allies at Volvo Trucks and EQT who partnered with us to make these facilities possible.”
According to Lucot, “This project delivers improved air quality for the region through emissions reductions, reduces dependence on traditional fuels, and serves as a regional catalyst for southwestern Pennsylvania in adopting and understanding alternative fuels and clean transportation technology.”
Data from the International Association for Natural Gas Vehicles shows that CNG is usually priced one-third below the cost of gasoline and diesel. As well as offering cost savings, CNG lowers particulate matter emissions by 94 percent, carbon monoxide emissions by 75 percent, nitrogen oxide emissions by as much as 49 percent, and carbon dioxide emissions by 25 percent.
Besides the benefits to the environment, commercial CNG vehicles run 50 percent quieter than diesel trucks. Giant Eagle's 10 new CNG fleet vehicles will displace more than 100,000 gallons of diesel fuel during their first year of operation alone.
“Until now, there have been no viable alternative fuel options for heavy-duty delivery trucks with the necessary level of power required to navigate the region's hilly and mountainous terrain,” noted Giant Eagle VP of logistics Bill Parry. “To continue evolving our environmentally friendly fleet, Giant Eagle worked closely with Volvo to design the 10 new CNG vehicles … with an 8.9 liter Cummins engine as the first of their kind in the commercial transportation industry.”
State officials expressed the hope that Giant Eagle’s move toward CNG technology will spur greater commercial and consumer adoption of fuel technology that have a positive effect on the environment and bolster Pennsylvania’s natural gas industry.
“We have a great opportunity now to create future jobs with a new industry right here in western Pennsylvania,” said Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato. “This is the first commercially viable CNG fueling station in southwestern Pennsylvania, and we hope for many more to come”
“Pennsylvania should be a leader in CNG expansion, and CNG-powered vehicles can become a big part of Pennsylvania's clean air strategy," added Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Mike Krancer. “Public-private partnerships like this one are helpful and can become a part of this effort, especially at this early stage. We should all look for opportunities for Pennsylvania to become a leader in the CNG fueling sector.”
Based on current market pricing, Giant Eagle will likely offer the fuel for sale to consumers at a price of $1.90 to $2 per gasoline gallon equivalent, or GGE. The self-service station for passenger vehicles will be open 24/7 and accept major credit cards. First-time CNG users can view a video that instructs them on the right way to fuel a CNG-powered vehicle at the station.