Oregon’s First CNG Station Opens in Eugene

Approximately three weeks ago, Oregon’s first public compressed natural gas (CNG) station opened. Travelcard Commercial Fueling, owned and operated by John Anderson and family, is also believed to be the first CNG station to remain open to the public 24/7, offering self-service fueling and credit or debit card payment.

Cleaner & Cheaper Fuel Alternative

According to research supported by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, natural gas is cleaner and cheaper than both gasoline and diesel fuel. CNG is natural gas that has been compressed to one percent of its normal volume.

In other parts of the world, CNG-fueled vehicles have been growing sharply in popularity since 2000. Customers in Oregon, or in any of these United States, are harder to find: of the roughly 14.8 million CNG-powered vehicles in the world, only 112,000 are used in the US.

That’s slowly beginning to change. Stricter air quality regulations, like the many enacted in California in recent years, are leading many companies to convert their commercial, industrial, or fleet vehicles to CNG. The Rogue Valley Transportation District has been running over half its bus fleet on CNG for fifteen years.

Vehicle badging that will hopefully become more common. Photo credit: Inhabitat / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Vehicle badging that will hopefully become more common.
Photo credit: Inhabitat / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Pollution control is not CNG’s sole benefit, however. Currently, the average price per gallon for gasoline in the Eugene-Springfield area is around $3.92. This week, Johnson’s price per gallon for CNG has been only $2.29. That’s a more than 70 percent cost difference.

A Growing Clientele

The combination of cleaner emissions and lower fuel prices have already helped make Travelcard Commercial Fueling a destination for the gradually-growing number of CNG users. Togo’s sandwich shops, also owned by the Anderson family, recently converted their delivery vehicles to CNG. (That’s corporate synergy right there!) A garbage truck bound for Portland stopped to fuel up a few weeks ago.

“We’re on some national websites,” cataloging America’s growing network of CNG stations, Johnson said. “I’ve […] had people come in at two in the morning.”

With the city’s industrial area nearby, Travelcard’s location at 65 North Seneca Road may be its strongest asset in the long run. “That’s why we’re here in West Eugene, instead of on I-5,” Johnson said.

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