South Florida fleet operators who are ready to make the much needed change from gasoline to compressed natural gas have good reason to be excited this summer. South Florida based company Wise Gas is in the final stages of preparing for the opening of Florida’s first public access CNG Station.
The fast-fuel CNG Station which is located at 650 NW 27th Avenue in Fort Lauderdale between Sunrise Blvd and Broward Blvd, ½ mile west of I-95 will initially accept the Wright Express card for payment and pricing for the “gasoline gallon equivalent” of compressed natural gas is expected to remain 30 – 50% less expensive than gasoline.
To meet the demand of waiting fleet operators who are eager to refuel their NGV’s (natural gas vehicles), Wise Gas has focused on “function before fashion” with an emphasis on a station capable of servicing the customers before adding the finishing touches to make the site attractive.
“It is a deviation from our standards on opening a new station,” explained Christine Slager, President of Wise Gas, “We would typically launch a new station with a grand opening and media event to showcase our model. In this case, however, since there currently is not another public access station, we’ve had to modify our project to get the natural gas vehicles access to fuel before we focus on appearance. Our customers come first and right now, our customers need to be able to refuel immediately. A media event and grand opening can wait just a bit longer while we make sure our customers are supported first, after all they are supporting the natural gas vehicle industry with their choice!”
There hasn’t been a public access CNG Station available to natural gas vehicle owners and fleets in Florida for many years and as a result, every aspect of this project was a new hurdle to overcome. There was a lot of focus on permitting and inspections to ensure that the groundwork for future stations in the area could progress more smoothly.
“It was a team effort,” Jeff Greene, Business Development Manager of Wise Gas added, “Many resources were pooled to accomplish this project in a fairly short timeframe. We are proud of the way it has come together and appreciate all of the help that has gone into making this possible.”
In addition to the plans to beautify the site prior to an “official” grand opening event, Wise Gas is already working to expand the station capacity based on increasing demand from area fleets.
“We will be expanding our station rapidly to accommodate the many requests we are receiving from other fleet owners,” said Louis Herring, Wise Gas General Manager, “The message is very clear, ‘if today you are not tomorrow, then you are already yesterday’ and from what we are seeing – today’s fleet owners are beginning to get the message.”
The Wise Gas station will be operational 24 hours each day, 7 days a week and is incorporating a back-up generator program to ensure that the station can function in the event of power loss or a storm. Initially, the station will accept the Wright Express fuel card as a method of payment, however Wise Gas (wisegasinc.com) is also developing a privately branded Wise Gas Fuel Card for individual NGV owners. Due to Federal and State Regulations, it is not currently possible to accept cash or credit cards.
Natural Gas as an alternative fuel is particularly appealing to a population who recognizes the need to reduce our foreign oil dependency. With oil prices rapidly rising once again, CNG is expected to remain 30 - 50% less expensive than gasoline. Vehicles must be modified to run on Natural Gas, however conversions are available for a number of makes and models. With additional stations already in the planning phases across the state, Wise Gas sees great hope for Florida to begin reducing its foreign oil dependency.