Natural gas refueling station brings new possibilities and visitors to Frederick

FREDERICK, Md. — The fourth public compressed natural gas (CNG) refueling station in the state of Maryland is now open in Frederick, and city officials are thrilled with the new possibilities and people it will bring.

“We’re a tourist destination for gas fuel, it’s great,” said Frederick Mayor Randy McClement.

It may not demonstrate Frederick’s rich history, but it will be an attraction for drivers operating cars that run only on natural gas.

“With this one open now, there’s a pretty good infrastructure. I could get to Minnesota if I wanted to, or I could go up to New England,” said Charles Huisentruit, a natural gas car owner. Huisentruit lives in Silver Spring, Md., and said the new location will enable him to fuel up and make it to the next station in Pittsburgh before hitting empty.

With twelve stations in the state (only four open to the public), every new station makes planning trips easier. It also makes the idea of buying this kind of vehicle more plausible and the city plans to take that into consideration.

“Since I’ve been mayor, we’ve always looked for a fleet to be able to go to alternate fueling to help save money and to help the environment. Natural gas was always a top idea, but unfortunately the closest fueling station was always Montgomery County. This opens up a lot more possibilities for us, having this station right here in our backyard,” Mayor McClement said.

Natural gas vehicles tend to be more costly, but Washington Gas said the cost-savings on fuel will help balance it out, and the benefits to the environment are immense.

“It reduces greenhouse gas emissions anywhere from 10 to 30 percent. There are some upfront costs, but it pays for itself over the life of the vehicle, as the fuel cost is lower. It also reduces particulate emissions, which are very important in improving air quality,” said Gautam Chandra, senior vice-president for strategy, business development, and non-utility operations for WGL Holdings, Inc. and Washington Gas.

While the technology isn’t new, the infrastructure hasn’t always been there, so Chandra hopes the increase in stations will create more demand for these vehicles.

“It’s the chicken or egg story. You have to have the infrastructure for fueling and for manufacturers of vehicles to make more of these vehicles. Certainly, our hope is as we make more infrastructure available to the public, that will cause more people to think about switching to compressed natural gas and hopefully that will create more usage of these vehicles,” Chandra said.

“You’ve got to build the infrastructure, and we’re seeing that growing. We’re up to almost 1,600 stations just for CNG nationwide. I think we’re seeing natural gas as transportation fuel growing, and you’ll see more of these very soon,” said Matthew Godlewski, president for Natural Gas Vehicles for America.

Two other CNG stations in Maryland are expected to open later this year in Baltimore and Prince George’s County. For more information on CNG locations, click here.

The newest station in Frederick is located at Washington Gas’ facility at 1800 N. Market Street.

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