Aqua America Chairman Supports Government Mandates and State Grants to Fuel Demand for Compressed Natural Gas
BRYN MAWR, Pa.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--
Aqua America, Inc. (NYSE: WTR) Chairman and CEO Nicholas DeBenedictis
said he supports the use of efficiency mandates for vehicle
manufacturers to increase the use of clean-burning compressed natural
gas (CNG) for cars and trucks. The remarks were made during today's
Natural Gas Vehicle Seminar in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania and sponsored
by the DEP.
"CNG is a clean, sustainable fuel and the bounty of shale gas found in
Pennsylvania, Ohio and other states offers a sizeable step toward the
energy independence America needs," said DeBenedictis who is also a
former DEP and Economic Development Secretary for the Commonwealth.
"Currently, however, the higher initial purchase price of CNG vehicles
has limited the transition of vehicle fleets to CNG. I support the
government efficiency and performance mandates that create a demand pull
and hence, the increased manufacture of such vehicles. The production of
more CNG vehicles will drive down the initial purchase price—which can
currently cost as much as 50 percent more than traditional
vehicles—improve sales and create a demand for the construction of the
filling stations needed to support the fleet."
The company made a commitment earlier this year to turn over much of the
company's Pennsylvania fleet to CNG. Aqua Pennsylvania has been piloting
CNG vehicles for more than a year and recently opened a time-fill
station at its Springfield Operations Center in Delaware County for its
fleet. Time-fill stations are less expensive and fuel vehicles from
existing natural gas lines. The company can accommodate the longer
period needed to refuel because the vehicles are housed at the facility
overnight and have longer periods of inactivity during which they can be
Aqua Pennsylvania plans to begin the transition with its 20 dump trucks
and 60 vans initially, as there are not many CNG passenger car models
available currently. However, as it begins to turn over its vehicles,
those that have original equipment manufacturer (OEM) CNG alternatives,
will be transitioned to CNG vehicles.
"I also see this as an opportunity to create demand for this clean
burning fuel, which is priced right because of the current surplus,"
said DeBenedictis. "The up-front investment has a relatively quick
payback, which accrues to benefit Aqua's ratepayers through reduced
expenses. With an anticipated cost of under $2 per gas gallon
equivalent, it will be nearly half the cost of conventional fuels.
Further, the maintenance costs of CNG fueled engines are lower."
DeBenedictis said that company's like Aqua Pennsylvania, which made the
decision to invest in CNG ahead of DEP's grant regulations, should be
not be penalized for taking a progressive stance on green energy. "We
made the commitment to CNG because it is the right thing to do," said
DeBenedictis. "As a result, we should not be denied eligibility for
State grants that have recently been enabled via legislation." DEP's
proposed rules do not allow for grants to be awarded for recently
purchased CNG vehicles.
Aqua America is one of the largest U.S.-based, publicly-traded water
utilities and serves almost 3 million residents in Pennsylvania, Ohio,
North Carolina, Illinois, Texas, New Jersey, Indiana, Florida, Virginia,
and Georgia. Aqua America is listed on the New York Stock Exchange under
the ticker symbol WTR.
Aqua America, Inc.
Donna Alston, 610-645-1095
Source: Aqua America, Inc.
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