Friday, April 11, 2008

My love/hate relationship with CNG

I love, love my 'new' truck. It's a Ford F-250, covered in dents and dings and had to be shipped from back east after we won it on ebay, but I couldn't care less what it looks like. Well, maybe I could care a tiny bit less, but only just. Living in a rural area where I'm trying to work on yard projects, it's really nice to have a truck to haul garbage, dirt, manure, fencing and dozens of other things. Even better is the fact that it takes Compressed Natural Gas. I know people are wary of using CNG, and in some areas of the country, fuel stations are nearly impossible to come across. I couldn't have driven my truck from the East Coast to here if I wanted to because there are too many states with no CNG stations at all--a crying shame.

Did you know Utah has a state income tax credit that is worth *almost* as much as I paid for my truck, including shipping? (Half the cost of a conversion of add on, up to $3000 until the end of the calendar year, then it goes down from there.) and that CNG costs only 64 cents at the pump-yes, you read that right. In other words, it costs significantly less for me to drive my gas guzzling pickup to Provo, than my fuel-efficient Kia Rio. A gallon of gas for my car will get me almost 40 miles in the Kia; the same monetary output in CNG will get more more than 60 miles in my truck.

Now for the hate part of things...Even though there are a number of fuel stations up and down the I-15 corridor, and the number is rising, my truck in dedicated natural gas. That means I can't use unleaded at all. So yesterday I was in Utah Country for my weekly critique group and stopped at my favorite fuel station in Orem--which had the natural gas pumps under construction as they are replacing them. So on my way home I stopped at the station in Springville, and couldn't get any pressure. This resulted in an aggravating, if mildly amusing story.

Long story short, er, shorter, after several phone calls back and forth with Questar the gentleman on the phone asked me to check at the front counter and see if they have to turn on the pumps. The woman said they did, they always had, and that's why there was a call button. I commented that I'd never had to push the call button before, to which she replied that I must never have filled up there before. I had pumped there at least half a dozen times (refer back to the fact that the Orem station was my preference in the area), and the younger girl suggested maybe someone had seen me standing out there and turned on the pump the other times.

I could accept that, if I hadn't mostly used the back pumps, which means the attendant would have to have Xray vision to see through all the diesels that fuel up between the building and the CNG pump. I didn't bother to argue with her and told her I was going to bring my truck back around to the front pump. I saw no sign anywhere on the pumps directing customers to push the call button to have them turned on.

I hook everything up and push the call button. Thirty seconds or so passes and nothing happens, so I push the button again. A minute or more passes and I still nothing. I push the button a third time. A couple more minutes pass as I stand around in the freezing wind and falling snow at nearly eleven pm. I stare at the window which clearly shows the women who knew I was coming to the pump going on with their business, paying no attention to me whatsoever.

Finally, I go into the building and ask very politely if something might be wrong with the call button because I have pushed it three times. The younger woman behind the counter answers matter-of-factly, "Oh, yeah, the intercom out there has been broken for quite a while." Grrr. About this time I want to throttle someone, but instead I simply tell her I'm at pump 24 and return outside. The pump turns on and all is well. It was only a little after midnight when I finally reach home.

Next vehicle is going to be a bi-fuel, then I won't have to worry about being stranded 100 miles from home.

And I still love my truck

5 comments:

Rebecca Talley said...

I also have a beat up, dinged up, rusted, and otherwise thrashed farm truck that we use like you, but we don't have that CNG thing. Wow--64 cents a gallon. I'm not sure we even have stations around here with CNG. But, wow, 64 cents a gallon.

It's great having a farm truck--especially when my son ran into a fence post and caved in the side. We weren't thrilled, but truthfully, it was hard to even tell :)

Fun post.

Jennifer said...

That's so funny - my husband was just talking to me about converting our cars to run on natural gas the other day. The incentive from the government, along with 64 cents a gallon, is the real clincher. We're thinking we'll probably go for it. :)

ali said...

Geez. What's with some people? *U*

That's so cool you love your truck and you can do so many neat things with it! Congrats!

Heather Justesen said...

Thanks ladies, my dh is already talking about getting a four-wheel rive bi-fuel truck but that is soooo far outside out budget he;s going to have to deal with it for now. It's nice having a truck as my Kia doesn't handle the rocky (mini-boulderish) terrain of our yard very well when I need to run bird seed or something out there. =)

And Jennifer, you should totally go for it!

Louis said...

I seen your blog about your truck running off of CNG and I am interested in making my truck CNG ready. Do you know what I might need to hook my truck up and how big of a tank do you have? How much pressure does it hold? How far does it take you before you have to fill up?