Central Freight Lines to Test Natural Gas Trucks

Central Freight Lines to Test Natural Gas Trucks

Southwestern less-than-truckload carrier Central Freight Lines will test 15 natural gas-powered Class 8 Peterbilt tractors in Houston and Galveston, Texas.

The test could lead to the purchase and deployment of more CNG-powered trucks in local pickup and delivery service, the Waco, Texas-based carrier said Thursday.

“The opportunity to test natural gas tractors is part of our effort to help improve air quality in the areas where we operate,” said Don Orr, president and CEO.

After years of use in municipal bus and waste-hauling operations, CNG and LNG are gaining ground as truck fuels, particularly for local delivery operations. Central Freight’s move to test CNG vehicles spotlights the expansion of the natural gas infrastructure in urban markets such as Houston and Galveston.

Clean Energy Fuels is expanding its national network of CNG and LNG fueling stations, opening an LNG fueling station in Seville, Ohio, this month. That LNG station, located at a Pilot Flying J truck stop, will support the LNG truck fleet operated by Dillon Transport for manufacturer Owens Corning.

Houston has existing CNG infrastructure that Central Freight will use, Orr said. The test is also supported by a grant from the Houston-Galveston Area Council.

In recent years, Central Freight has been replacing older trucks and purchasing environmentally friendly equipment such as propane-powered forklifts.

“We are firm believers in using domestically produced fuels like natural gas to help reduce consumption of foreign oil,” Orr said in a statement.

The CNG trucks will be good for business in several ways. Although they will cost more upfront, they are expected to generate significant fuel cost savings. Currently, natural gas prices are about half the price of on-highway diesel fuel on a per-gallon-equivalent basis, running less than $2.50 per gallon in Houston.

Natural gas powered tractors support U.S. energy producers, Orr said, noting that “many of those companies and their suppliers are our customers.”

-- Contact William B. Cassidy at wcassidy@joc.com. Follow him on Twitter @wbcassidy_joc.