Aqua America Chairman Supports Government Mandates and State Grants to Fuel
Demand for Compressed Natural Gas
BRYN MAWR, Pa. -- October 24, 2012
Aqua America, Inc. (NYSE: WTR) Chairman and CEO Nicholas DeBenedictis said he
supports the use of efficiency mandates for vehicle manufacturers to increase
the use of clean-burning compressed natural gas (CNG) for cars and trucks. The
remarks were made during today’s Natural Gas Vehicle Seminar in Valley Forge,
Pennsylvania and sponsored by the DEP.
“CNG is a clean, sustainable fuel and the bounty of shale gas found in
Pennsylvania, Ohio and other states offers a sizeable step toward the energy
independence America needs,” said DeBenedictis who is also a former DEP and
Economic Development Secretary for the Commonwealth. “Currently, however, the
higher initial purchase price of CNG vehicles has limited the transition of
vehicle fleets to CNG. I support the government efficiency and performance
mandates that create a demand pull and hence, the increased manufacture of
such vehicles. The production of more CNG vehicles will drive down the initial
purchase price—which can currently cost as much as 50 percent more than
traditional vehicles—improve sales and create a demand for the construction of
the filling stations needed to support the fleet.”
The company made a commitment earlier this year to turn over much of the
company’s Pennsylvania fleet to CNG. Aqua Pennsylvania has been piloting CNG
vehicles for more than a year and recently opened a time-fill station at its
Springfield Operations Center in Delaware County for its fleet. Time-fill
stations are less expensive and fuel vehicles from existing natural gas lines.
The company can accommodate the longer period needed to refuel because the
vehicles are housed at the facility overnight and have longer periods of
inactivity during which they can be refueled.
Aqua Pennsylvania plans to begin the transition with its 20 dump trucks and 60
vans initially, as there are not many CNG passenger car models available
currently. However, as it begins to turn over its vehicles, those that have
original equipment manufacturer (OEM) CNG alternatives, will be transitioned
to CNG vehicles.
“I also see this as an opportunity to create demand for this clean burning
fuel, which is priced right because of the current surplus,” said
DeBenedictis. “The up-front investment has a relatively quick payback, which
accrues to benefit Aqua’s ratepayers through reduced expenses. With an
anticipated cost of under $2 per gas gallon equivalent, it will be nearly half
the cost of conventional fuels. Further, the maintenance costs of CNG fueled
engines are lower.”
DeBenedictis said that company’s like Aqua Pennsylvania, which made the
decision to invest in CNG ahead of DEP’s grant regulations, should be not be
penalized for taking a progressive stance on green energy. “We made the
commitment to CNG because it is the right thing to do,” said DeBenedictis. “As
a result, we should not be denied eligibility for State grants that have
recently been enabled via legislation.” DEP’s proposed rules do not allow for
grants to be awarded for recently purchased CNG vehicles.
Aqua America is one of the largest U.S.-based, publicly-traded water utilities
and serves almost 3 million residents in Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina,
Illinois, Texas, New Jersey, Indiana, Florida, Virginia, and Georgia. Aqua
America is listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol WTR.
Aqua America, Inc.
Donna Alston, 610-645-1095
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