Natural gas vans pay off for Home Med-Equip
CONCORD, Calif. - Cliff Woolard replaced his diesel delivery trucks with vans that run on compressed natural gas two years ago, and that move is really starting to pay off, he said in June.
"It has been huge for us," said Woolard, president of Home Med-Equip. "The irony is that when I went to fill up my family minivan prices were going up to $3.35, $3.40, $3.45, $3.50. I have a company car, a Crown Victoria, that runs on natural gas, and the prices are going in the opposite direction--$1.97, $1.86, $1.75."
In fact, Woolard added, he spends about $600 a month on gas for his family's Ford Windstar minivan. For the same amount of money each month, he can run three natural gas delivery vehicles.
Med-Equip buys its natural gas, which burns cleaner than gasoline, from the local utility, PG&E, for about $1.76 a gallon. The miles per gallon for natural gas is about the same as for gasoline. His savings come from the lower price per gallon.
"The high gas prices have brought people back to the realization that this is a delivery business," Woolard said. "As the prices rise, I think a lot of providers look and ask, 'What can I trim? Do I need to reduce deliveries? Service calls? Do I ask customers to come in?' We have not been affected by that. We are not having to cut services."
When Woolard bought the compressed natural gas vans in 2004, they cost about $35,000 fully outfitted. That was less than the cost of a diesel vehicle, and several thousand dollars more than a comparable truck that runs on gasoline.