The volatility at the pump is making natural gas-fueled vehicles a more attractive option. Monday's news that Chesapeake Energy and G.E. are moving forward with their CNG in a Box system could lead to a new type of filling station in the area.
The two companies unveiled their system - CNG stands for compressed natural gas - during the National Association of Convenience Stores 2012 show in Las Vegas. The system works by tapping into natural gas from a pipeline and compressing it for vehicle use, and could be installed near existing gasoline pumps. A similar system existed years ago in Wheeling.
Two of the new systems are currently being tested in Texas, said Chesapeake spokesman Bob Jarvis. "We are certainly hopeful to have some in the West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio area," he added in reference to the region's gas boom.
That would be welcome news, especially given what Wood County, W.Va. commissioners learned recently about a Kanawha County natural gas vehicle project. Wood County officials were told that Kanawha County was able to fill a vehicle in its fleet for the equivalent of $1.89 a gallon. That's roughly half of the current pump price.
The technology isn't new: more than 12 million vehicles worldwide use compressed natural gas. In the United States, the number is a mere 110,000.
There are other benefits, such as reduced emissions and helping to reduce the nation's dependence on foreign oil. Natural gas appears to be proving a versatile fuel for the future.