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Convert to CNG Using Government Grants

January 29, 2019

As gas and diesel prices soared in 2010, Ozinga began exploring compressed natural gas as an alternative fuel option. Rather than convert our fleet all at once, we chose to purchase a CNG vehicle and expand as we were able. A new CNG vehicle can be expensive, but fortunately, there are grants available to offset the costs.

Ozinga participated in natural gas roundtables and other educational events hosted by Clean Cities partners, including South Shore Clean Cities, Chicago Clean Cities, and Wisconsin Clean Cities. Clean Cities also helped connect Ozinga with natural gas advocates across the United States, and natural gas fueling system manufacturers to ensure Ozinga’s technicians had the proper certifications. Throughout the grant process, Ozinga also made sure we were following all the proper protocols at the federal, local, and state levels.

If you’re interested in pursuing a CNG grant, it’s important to prepare yourself before the grant process begins. Make a plan: Figure out what vehicles you’d like to replace, and which vehicles you operate that fit into the available grant categories. Apply as early as possible to increase your chances of securing a grant.

There are millions of dollars available in grant money to help companies reduce air pollution and make their businesses and communities greener. Ozinga can help assist you during the grant process and building/converting your fleet once your grant has been approved.

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Ozinga bought our first compressed natural gas (CNG) truck in 2011. We were the first compressed natural gas provider in the Midwest and we now boast the largest CNG ready mix fleet in the United States. But if you aren’t an expert like we are, you might be wondering what is CNG? We’re here to answer all your questions.

WHAT IS CNG?

Compressed natural gas is an alternative fuel comprised mostly of methane and compressed to less than 1% of its volume at standard atmospheric pressure. This odorless, colorless, and tasteless fuel source is drawn from gas wells in conjunction with crude oil production.

In 2011 when we entered the market, gas and diesel prices were going through the roof. Diesel fuel was $4 plus while CNG fuel was available for less than $1. We were also looking for something that was healthier for our coworkers and the environment and seeking to establish a company energy policy for the future with a fuel source that is found in the United States and has an abundant supply. Natural gas was a good fit.

We currently have a fleet of roughly 170 CNG mixer trucks and 50 support vehicles.

WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF USING CNG?

CNG is an affordable and abundant fuel found in the US that is not governed by worldwide petroleum production.

What’s more, natural gas vehicles burn 90% cleaner than current EPA standards and emit 21% fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Ozinga is currently looking into using renewable natural gas (methane) taken from landfills and dairy farms. With renewable natural gas, greenhouse gas emissions are reduced by 125%!

WHAT ARE THE DRAWBACKS?

The only drawback to using CNG is that there are limited places to fuel up. Ozinga has public fueling stations throughout Indiana and Illinois. We are looking to build one in South Bend, Indiana soon.

With enough natural gas reserves in the US alone to last 100-200 years, compressed natural gas is an excellent choice for your company that will power your fleet for years to come.

Ozinga can help you convert you current fleet to CNG or build a new fueling station at your facility.

As part of Ozinga’s commitment to leave the world a better place than we found it, we’re aiming to expand our use of electric vehicles (EVs) and increase the number public charging stations throughout our communities.

We purchased our first electric vehicle in 2015 with the help of a grant and have added four more in the years since. We also currently operate two charging stations in Mokena, IL and Gary, IN that are open to the public. So far, we’ve avoided 588 kg of greenhouse gas emissions. That’s equivalent to planting 15 trees and letting them grow for ten years!

Moving forward, Vice President of Fleet Management Jeff Bonnema is interested in purchasing more electric and fuel-efficient vehicles.

“Ozinga is committed to the use of alternative-fueled vehicles and equipment in our operations,” Bonnema said. “We will continue to explore new technologies and innovations in the area of alternative fuel so that we can maximize our fleet efficiency while minimizing our carbon footprint. As we continue to grow we will use EVs as one of many viable options for our fleet.”

Ozinga also specializes in compressed natural gas (CNG), offering both fueling and station solutions. From converting your current fleet to developing and maintaining a CNG station, we can help provide you with the alternative fuel solutions you’re looking for.

When building a CNG fueling station, four easy steps can help you to improve your fleet, save money, and play a part in saving the environment.

1. HAVE A GAME PLAN.

The first thing to consider is if you have the proper utility services. Check to see if gas and electric services are available to you or if you need them upgraded. Next, contemplate your needs: Do you require a time-fill or fast-fill fueling station? Is the station just for your fleet or other fleets as well? Is the location of your station accessible to large vehicles? Having a plan before finding a provider will facilitate communication, avoid miscommunication, and help you to have a seamless building experience.

2. FIND THE RIGHT PROVIDER.

Your building partner defines your experience. Make sure whoever you chose has experience in building different types of stations and can properly assess your needs and game plan. A provider that caters to you and your team with regular training is also essential, as technology is always changing and improving. Your partner should provide timely maintenance, respond to service calls, and replace equipment as needed so that your experience is as easy as possible.

3. GET THE RIGHT SYSTEMS.

If you have the right plan and provider, next you’ll need the right systems. No two CNG fueling stations are alike and every fleet has different needs. The right systems and equipment will help to optimize your fueling station and seamlessly serve your fleet and others. Important systems include compressor systems, storage systems for compressed natural gas, time-fill or fast-fill dispensing systems, monitoring systems, and point of sale systems to make your station convenient and accessible.

4. PRACTICE SAFETY.

Even though CNG is safer than traditional fuels because it has a lower chance of combustion, don’t forget to practice safety on the job. When constructing your CNG fueling station, make sure your provider understands building codes and safety requirements.

Once your fueling station is built and ready to operate, don’t forget about your own safety. Pay attention and listen to the instructions your provider presents. When filling up your vehicle, turn off the engine and don’t smoke by the fueling station. Familiarize yourself with the location of fire extinguishers and emergency shutoffs at your location, in case of emergency.

Following these four easy steps will help you to streamline your CNG fueling station construction experience and allow you to fully enjoy your green, money-saving, efficient fleet.

Converting your fleet to compressed natural gas is a big decision. With lots of factors to analyze before switching over to CNG, consider costs and benefits from this alternate fuel source.

DO YOU HAVE ACCESS TO UTILITY SERVICES?

Whether you’re converting your whole fleet or just a few trucks, you should have easy access to utility services, like gas and electric. You should also have easy access to a CNG fueling station and consider whether your fleet requires a time-fill or fast-fill station. If there isn’t a station close to your facility, consider building your own. This might mean that you have to reconsider your budget.

WHAT’S YOUR BUDGET?

Considering what you can spend and how much of your fleet to convert to CNG can help save you stress in the process. While the upfront cost of converting to CNG can be expensive, your fleet will use less fuel and require less maintenance in the following three to six months. This will ultimately save you time and money and means that your fleet will last longer.

If you’re hesitant about the cost of converting, scale the amount of conversion to what meets your needs. If you can’t afford to convert your entire fleet or have all your trucks out of commission, convert them in shifts instead.

HOW WILL YOU BENEFIT?

There are several benefits to converting your fleet to CNG. Make sure to analyze them and see if you’re meeting your goals. CNG vehicles are safer than gasoline fuel vehicles, as compressed natural gas isn’t as flammable. CNG is also better for the environment, as it results in less toxic fumes and pollution. Lastly, you’ll save money, as conversions can outlast the vehicle itself. CNG vehicles are very safe and the converted parts can be removed if you change your mind.

DO YOU HAVE PROVIDERS WITH THE RIGHT SKILLS?

There are several steps to converting your vehicle that you’ll need professional expertise for along the way. Before you convert your vehicle, talk to an expert so you know what’s best for your specific trucks.

When servicing CNG vehicles, it’s vital to find a good technician to provide maintenance and potential new parts. Additionally, it’s difficult to convert old vehicles. If your trucks are old, it may be in your best interest to buy new CNG ones, instead of converting. Ask an expert about your state laws regarding vehicle emissions and vehicle inspection.

As a fleet manager, your priorities include your workers, your projects, and how they affect the world around us. Converting your fleet to CNG gives you more control over and confidence in the most important spheres of your work life.

SAFETY MANAGEMENT

Having a CNG fleet allows you to worry less about your workers’ safety, both in the field and at your facility. Because it’s lighter than air, compressed natural gas dissipates if it’s spilled. Because CNG can’t combust like alternative fuels, it’s safer in a potential crash and prevents fires in jobsite spills.

CNG vehicles are quiet, allowing workers and pedestrians surrounding the trucks to hear each other and communicate better. Additionally, CNG vehicles produce less toxic fumes than diesel or propane trucks, meaning less sick days for workers.

ASSURANCE OF A BETTER ENVIRONMENT

Not only is the lack of pollutants from CNG vehicles beneficial to worker and pedestrian health, but it also benefits the environment. In heavy-duty trucks, CNG reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 23 percent, smog-producing pollutants by 90 percent, and hydrocarbon emissions by 50-70 percent. In terms of pollution reduction, one truck shifting from diesel fuel to CNG is equivalent to taking 325 cars off the road.

CERTAINTY IN POWER

Loss of power in CNG vehicles may be a concern for fleet managers. However, this is uncommon and largely depends on your vehicle’s engine. Some drivers of CNG vehicles report a power loss of less than 10 percent, while others notice no loss in power at all.

SAVE MONEY

As a fleet manager, less fuel and routine maintenance means more money in your pocket. Have more confidence and control over the safety, environmental contribution, vehicle power, and cost effectiveness of your fleet.

Ozinga specializes in CNG fueling station installation and maintenance, as well as CNG vehicle conversions. Contact an Energy Specialist to learn more.

With the increasing use of compressed natural gas (CNG) as an alternate fuel source comes the discussion of how to more extensively use it as a clean energy source. While 30 percent of the United States’ energy sources are natural gas, less than one percent of that is used as fuel for vehicles like CNG trucks.

A majority of CNG vehicles that use this fuel source belong to large corporations or municipalities. Many companies that utilize heavy-duty construction trucks, public transportation buses, or delivery vans convert their fleets to utilize compressed natural gas. CNG fleets benefit these organizations by saving them money and the environment simultaneously.

However, only 250,000 of the world’s 12 million vehicles powered by CNG are located in the United States; most of these vehicles are fleet vehicles. As municipal and corporate fleets lead the way in proving the efficient and safe use of compressed natural gas as alternative fuel, there should be an expansion of CNG consumer vehicles in the United States.

The biggest way to see an increase in light-duty CNG vehicles in the United States is to encourage manufacturers to create CNG cars with compatible engines. There are only a few models of vehicles on the market, like the Ford F250, that utilize compressed natural gas in different ways. A dedicated CNG vehicle runs strictly on natural gas, while a bi-fuel vehicle can run on either natural gas or gasoline; dual-fuel vehicles use diesel fuel for ignition and natural gas the rest of the time.

A deterrent for consumers looking to purchase CNG vehicles might be the sparse number of fueling stations throughout the United States, especially when compared to the number of gas stations. When consumers don’t have to convert their everyday vehicles or go out of their way to find a fueling station, they’re more likely to buy easy-to-use, sustainable vehicles.

If there are more CNG consumer vehicles on the road, there needs to be more government support of these vehicles. This should start at the state level with inspection processes, as not all states have these in place for compressed natural gas vehicles. Outside of state government support, there needs to be more of a nationwide incentive for cleaner energy cars. With more state support and a national incentive for compressed natural gas, it would be convenient and sustainable for consumers to have a CNG vehicle.

Ozinga builds CNG fueling stations and has hundreds of CNG trucks on the road. Contact an energy specialist for help converting your vehicle.

Natural gas is at the forefront of the growing conversation surrounding sustainability and clean energy. Corporations, municipalities and some consumer car manufacturers are utilizing compressed natural gas (CNG) as an alternative fuel source to diesel or propane.

WHERE CNG COMES FROM

Compressed natural gas, in its most basic form, comes from the ground. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, natural gas is found near oil wells during extraction. The natural gas is separated from oil and compressed to 3,600 pounds per square inch to store in CNG vehicles.

HOW CNG IS USED

CNG vehicles utilize compressed natural gas as fuel in a comparable way to petroleum derivative vehicles. These vehicles contain spark-ignited combustion engines, which work similarly to non-CNG vehicles. In comparison to petroleum derivatives, compressed natural gas is a more abundant and consistent fuel source. Because CNG is sourced underground in the United States, it has steadier prices, as factors like weather and importation are irrelevant. With compressed natural gas, the cost of petroleum derivatives that run off of the world’s oil prices is unimportant.

CNG is also safer than vehicles that use petroleum derivatives like propane because of its lower flash point, or when it ignites. Vehicles that utilize this alternate fuel also have less emission pollution than their counterparts. Safer and cleaner to use than petroleum derivatives, compressed natural gas releases less toxic exhaust and CNG vehicles are often quieter than other trucks.

Alongside the use of compressed natural gas is renewable natural gas (RNG). This natural gas is gathered from places like landfills or dairy farms where there is a high presence of methane. RNG also has the ability to be used in natural gas vehicles and can be compressed to CNG.

While many corporate and municipal vehicles utilize CNG, this fuel alternative is also available for everyday consumers who drive smaller cars. If you don’t own a CNG vehicle and want to, most cars have a conversion ability with the proper kit and installation assistance. With a new fuel tank and various other parts, a new or recently bought vehicle can be converted.

Ozinga introduced our CNG trucks in 2011 and specializes in converting vehicles to CNG and installing CNG fueling stations. Contact an energy specialist to learn more.

Ozinga has partnered with Kraus Global Ltd. on a beta test of a new metered CNG time-fill post solution, and we will have it on display at our booth at the Waste Expo in Las Vegas from April 24-26 (Booth #1617) and the ACT Expo in Long Beach from May 1-2 (Booth #856). Those interested in the new product will experience a hands-on demonstration of the new post control system and how it will impact their compressed natural gas systems.

Kraus Global Ltd. introduced metered CNG time-fill post systems to the CNG marketplace using their MICON NEXTGEN 1.0® controller in order to help provide accurate metering from each hose. With this technology, drivers and fleet managers can keep track of the amount of CNG fuel going into each vehicle, and they can even access a customizable summary of the station and fleet. Existing stations can be upgraded to this new system using a retrofit kit and integrating Kraus Control panels into their site.

Currently, Ozinga and Kraus are beta testing the new system and it’s working as planned. Fleet managers and station owners have been interested in this type of solutions since the beginning of compressed natural gas, and the new metered CNG time-fill post solution is a major breakthrough in the industry.

Ozinga Energy is your trusted source for on-site and public fleet fuel sales; CNG station construction, design and repair services; and CNG parts and vehicle repair services. If you’re interested in our compressed natural gas solutions, talk with one of our energy experts today.

Ozinga’s Spring Kickoff events started Monday at Notre Dame, and today the fun continues at the Harley-Davidson Museum in Wisconsin. Like Monday’s event, today’s celebration will be a chance for Ozinga coworkers to join together to celebrate our accomplishments and look towards the future. Plus, we’ll honor those coworkers who have been a part of the industry for many years and take a look at some of the innovation we have up our sleeves.

Ozinga is proud of our Wisconsin operations. We entered the Wisconsin market in 2014 and have grown significantly over the past few years. In addition to our ready-mix concrete plants, we also have materials and logistics operations throughout the state as well, helping companies to source and supply aggregates and other materials.

We like to think our products and services have helped build Wisconsin, and we’re lucky to have been a part of some great projects like the new IKEA warehouse, Franklin Middle School, Northwest Mutual Tower, 7Seventy7 Building, U-Line Corporate Office and Warehouse, and so many more.

We’re excited to celebrate with our Wisconsin coworkers today and look forward to the other Spring Kickoff events taking place next week. If you’d like an inside scoop on Ozinga Spring Kickoffs, be sure to keep your eye out for a livestream event happening later this month.