If you travel the Beltline with any regularity between the hours of 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. you’ve likely seen a big yellow truck, cruising up and down the 16-mile stretch of highway that rounds Madison’s south side and includes sections of U.S. 12, 14, 18 and 151. This vehicle is used to assist withtraffic incidents such as disabled vehicles, debris, crashes, blockages caused by roadwork.
Mark Barnes, founder and owner of Verona-Wisconsin-based Barnes Inc. began researching alternative fueled vehicles over a decade ago, before his fleet reached 145 vehicles and consumed 100,000 gallons of diesel and gasoline annually. By 2006 he had incorporated 15 hybrid Toyota Priuses into his fleet but saw no real alternative to diesel and gasoline trucks in his landscaping and snowplowing company’s fleet, whose customers include Madison Gas and Electric Company.
Fast-forward to 2014 and the price of natural gas is half of what it was in 2006. The average price of CNG in Wisconsin right now is about $1.88 per GGE compared with $3.74 for regular gasoline and $3.96 for diesel. Barnes Inc. now has 22 bi-fuel ¾ ton CNG pickups in its fleet with plans underway to bring the number of vehicles in its fleet that have been converted to CNG up to 80 over the next two to three years, including 32,000 lb. GVW trucks that the company intends to purchase. Despite south central Wisconsin’s frigid winters, the company’s CNG trucks “were unbelievable. We ran them all winter long with no problems whatsoever, pushing snow, pulling trailers, with plenty of power,” says Troy Grindle, Barnes Inc.’s shop manager.
After gaining experience with the CNG trucks in his fleet, Mark Barnes founded Barnes Green Energy, a qualified vehicle modifier for installing and maintaining EPA certified CNG fueling systems for a range of Ford, GM and Chrysler vehicles using NatGasCar and Altech-Eco Corp. CNG kits. Barnes says it typically takes a two-person team about six hours to complete a conversion including installing fuel injectors, fuel lines and fuel tanks.
Barnes recently took steps to permit a public access CNG station, in Verona, on the western edge of the Madison, Wis. metro area. The CNG station is planned for eight-pumps on four islands. The $1.5 million station will be built on 2.7 acres of Barnes Inc.’s 16.8-acre facility by Appleton-Wis.-based U.S. Oil, which is building stations in the Midwest under its GAIN Clean Fuel brand. U.S. Oil projects that station will dispense 200,000 GGE of CNG in its first year, growing by about 100,000 GGE per year to over 1 million GGE annually, not including the CNG that will be used for Barnes Inc.’s own vehicles. Barnes says the location is optimal, because it occupies a “dead spot” for CNG fueling on highway 18 between Madison and Dubuque, Iowa. Barnes and U.S. Oil hope to have the permits secured and CNG fueling infrastructure installed and operating in time to open the station by July.
Press Release source located at NGV TODAY