By MATT KOESTERS
It’s not cold fusion. But it’s cold, it’s energy, and officials say it’s the future.
Officials and business representatives gathered in Sellersburg to celebrate the opening of Blu.’s first liquefied natural gas, or LNG, station in Indiana, its 17th grand opening nationwide.
“Blu. is building and operating liquefied natural gas stations nationwide with the No. 1 goal, I think that all of us have, of returning our country back to an energy-independent state,” said Erik Johnson, director of national operations for the Salt Lake City-based company.
LNG is natural gas that’s been refrigerated to temperatures lower than minus-260 degrees Fahrenheit, providing a cleaner-burning and more cost-effective fuel than diesel, according to a Blu. news release.
The station, which is located along Payne-Koehler Road just off Old State Road 60, sells both LNG and diesel fuel, with LNG costing more than $1 less per gallon equivalent than diesel. That means savings of between 15 and 26 cents per mile, depending on engine configuration, according to Blu. literature.
The state started 2013 with six natural-gas stations, all of which sold compressed natural gas. The Blu. station in Sellersburg is Indiana’s 15th natural-gas station and its first LNG station, said Kellie Walsh, executive director of the Greater Indiana Clean Cities Coalition.
“Both fuels definitely have a place in the market, especially in the trucking and long-haul industries,” Walsh said. “It’s something that we can certainly see a hope and opportunity to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and utilize resources here from our own nation, and provide fleets the opportunity to reduce the cost and bottom line of their business operations.”
State Rep. Randy Frye, R-Greensburg, was on hand to tout HB 1324, which he authored. Frye’s bill was signed into law by Gov. Mike Pence at the conclusion of the 2013 legislative session. Among other things, the law provides for up to 200 $15,000 tax credits for semi-trucks that are built or retrofitted to use natural gas as fuel. The law diverts sales tax from natural gas sales to pay for the bills, which will sunset after three years, Frye said.
It can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $40,000 to retrofit a diesel-configured semi-truck, Johnson said.
Frye said the way to get people driving natural-gas vehicles is to start with the largest fuel users, and envisions natural gas becoming a commonly used vehicle fuel.
“I want to see Hoosiers driving natural gas semi-trucks, pick-up trucks, cars — you get it,” Frye said.
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