With new CNG trucks and a new filling station, Try-It Distributing Co., will make the switch from diesel fuel to compressed natural gas in January. The company unveiled 43 CNG-powered trucks and a new public filling station Wednesday on its Lancaster site during a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
With the CNG fleet, the company looks to reduce it greenhouse emissions and fueling costs. Company officials said the move will also relieve dependence on foreign oil.
“There are many benefits,” said Jeff Gicewicz, vice president of corporate holdings for the company. “It’s a very economical way to deliver our product.”
Furthermore, he said the environmental benefits are significant.
“It means a reduction of 390 tons of carbon emissions annually; that’s the equivalent of taking 80 cars off the road,” he said.
Try-It’s switch is further confirmation the CNG movement is afoot in Western New York.
The family-owned company, which employs 500, joins Waste Management and other businesses that have already converted their fleets to take advantage of fuel that costs anywhere from a third to half as much as gasoline and diesel fuel. Earlier this year, Cotton Drilling in Sheridan made the switch with a new fleet and also built a public station.
With the new station, the area now has six public CNG filling stations, including two run by National Fuel that can be used by companies and individuals with CNG vehicles, and as many as five more stations are planned for the near future.
Try-It will use a few of the CNG vehicles this month in beta mode and put the whole fleet on the road in January once it addresses any kinks in operation, Gicewicz said.
Try-It was awarded $1 million from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority through its Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative to cover a portion of leasing the fleet of the new vehicles.
American Natural Gas, a Saratoga Springs-based company, owns and will operate the station located on Try-It’s property on Walden Avenue in Lancaster. The two-pump station is considered state-of-the-art, with an emergency back-up generator in case of power failure, and will be open to the public, businesses and individual with CNG vehicles.
“We’re most excited because of the progressive approach that Try-It leadership took throughout this process,” said Drew West, founder and CEO of American Natural Gas, which builds, designs, operates and maintains CNG stations. “You don’t see, throughout this industry, companies that set the bar at a level this high very often – turning over an entire fleet in one fell swoop is unheard of.”
Gicewicz said the conversion wouldn’t have been possible without the NYSERDA funding.
NYSERDA has awarded $36 million in funds to businesses, municipalities and nonprofits for 135 CNG projects, said Kelly Tyler, program manager of economic development and community outreach for NYSERDA Buffalo/Niagara.
She said the agency is especially focused on transportation because it “accounts for 38 percent of the net energy consumption in New York and approximately 39 percent of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions, making this sector one of the single largest contributors to climate change.”
Gicewicz said the conversion will also be good for business, making it more attractive to beverage makers, like craft brewers and micro imports, who look for green distributors.
With all the benefits and the funding, Paul Vukelic, president and COO, of Try-It, said conversion wasn’t an easy decision, because the payback wasn’t what they’d expected. But in the end it boiled down to community service.
“It was just the right thing to do, bottom line,” he said.