O/T: Smith's Dairy CNG Station

Looks like more than just government facilities are starting to use CNG as an alternate transportation fuel.
The following appeared in The Daily Record, the local newspaper in Wooster, Ohio.
Quite a feat for a dairy in a small town of less than 10,000 folks.
ORRVILLE -- One could say the scores of people who showed up Wednesday for the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Smith Dairy Trucking's compressed natural gas fueling island were pretty pumped. And that would probably be an understatement.
Public officials, community leaders, politicos and citizens of all ages from a wide geographic area flocked to the unveiling of one of the most ambitious alternative fuel initiatives in this area of Ohio in recent memory.
Smith Dairy showed off not only its new CNG fueling island for use by its own fleet plus any members of the public who want to use it, but the first six installments of what in several years is expected to be one of the most formidable fleets of CNG-fueled vehicles on the road.
Over the next dozen or so years, Smith's plans to convert its entire fleet of more than 400 vehicles to compressed natural gas.
Along with the six sparkling new Smith CNG semi-trucks were a large assortment of other CNG-powered vehicles ranging from SARTA buses from Canton and an eye-popping chopper from Oklahoma City, to a refuse truck from Kimble, one of hundreds of which the Dover-based hauler has contracted for.
Chuck Diehl, fleet manager for Smith's, said the unveiling represented "an awesome environmental decision for us in reducing our carbon footprint." Diehl said the new vehicles, as they come online over the years, will reflect Smith's sense of stewardship of the environment "one truck at a time."
Diehl said a year from now, depending on the availability of grant money to help the process along, he hopes the company will have as many as two dozen of its semis running on compressed natural gas. He said even in the worst-case scenario, it would have a dozen.
The fleet manager praised the foresight of Smith's leadership in its decision to invest in CNG vehicles, saying in the process it had handed his department "the best tools" to undertake the mission.
Company President Steve Schmid recapped the history of the project, saying the vision had grown out of a conference attended by company officials two years ago.
By giving the public access to the facility, Schmid said, "we can help people move to a better carbon footprint." He added while he was "thrilled to have six trucks" converted to the alternative fuel, he was "frustrated because we ran out of money" to do more immediately.
Orrville Mayor Dave Handwerk praised the Schmid family for its sense of "forward-thinking," not only for the CNG fueling island, but for a host of things it has done for the community over the years.
Handwerk said Smith's "has put the city on the map as a (CNG) fueling point" for drivers of CNG vehicles looking to fill up.
Craig Butler, assistant policy director energy, agriculture and environment, representing Ohio Gov. John Kasich who is attending the Republican National Convention, predicted the Orrville facility will help illustrate CNG "is cost effective and technically viable," and will have a "ripple effect" to many parts of the economy.
Butler predicted within the next 10 to 15 years Ohio will have a "robust CNG infrastructure," for which Smith's will be credited as one of the pioneers.
Todd Schnitzler, chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, said he applauded the Orrville company for moving forward with the project "when the cost benefit matrix showed that the time was now for Smith's."
Schnitzler said with Ohio being "a transportation hub known for its logistics," it makes sense the state take the lead in helping CNG to expand dramatically as a transportation fuel.
Bill McGlinchy, CEO of Orrville-based Alternative Fuel Vehicles International, who had coordinated the workshops that set Smith's on the road to converting its fleet, called it "an amazing milestone for a community of this size to make this kind of a commitment to the environmental imprint."
McGlinchy said the "stars have aligned" to create the perfect environment where it now makes sense for a company like Smith's to convert its fleet to CNG.
"At a time when global warming is on everyone's mind, here is the solution," McGlinchy said, adding Smith's will recover the cost of constructing the station in five years, while the payback on recovering the cost of the fleet conversions will be three years.
Gary Bender, a 44-year employee of Smith's who is the manager of the body shop and now the "safety guy" for the CNG fleet, said, "It's going to be very interesting to see how all of this progresses in the next several years."
Bender said it is predicted the fueling island will prove so popular that features allowing for its expedient expansion -- including more pumps and a third compressor for natural gas -- were built into the initial design.
Diehl told onlookers at a fueling demonstration it takes less than 10 minutes to fuel one of the CNG trucks, they have a range of about 327 miles on 84 gallons of the alternative fuel and CNG can be transferred from a fueling port on one vehicle to the port on another if one truck is low on fuel.
Reporter Paul Locher can be reached at 330-682-2055 or snipped-for-privacy@the-daily-record.com.

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