RUTLAND — Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) is paving the streets in downtown Rutland and running the largest commercial laundry in the state, as well as heating the second largest hospital — and there is no gas pipeline in the area yet. Rather, the gas is arriving by a virtual pipeline, consisting of a fleet of high-tech tractor/trailers operated by NG Advantage.
According to the Town’s Public Policy Statement 2013, one of the things Rutland is counting on to help foster a revitalization is natural gas. The problem is that the planned expansion of the Vermont Gas Systems pipeline is not scheduled to happen until 2020 at the earliest. Many Rutland businesses and town agencies feel that Rutland cannot wait. The city must stay competitive. The transition from expensive to cheaper, cleaner natural gas has already begun.
Rutland’s Mayor Chris Louras explains the significance of trucked natural gas arriving in Rutland, saying, “A significant number of local employers currently use large amounts of #2 and #6 fuel oil to produce heat. This is inefficient, expensive, and not an environmentally sound practice for the long term.”
“Rutland,” he continued, “will be more vibrant with the expansion of the Vermont Gas Systems pipeline in six years, but we are not wasting time. Our businesses are thrilled to be converting to natural gas now. We are also looking for ways to create new industries. Food processing is an industry that we are particularly interested in. Industries that use process heat will absolutely require access to gas. We are glad that we can begin selling the advantages of gas in Rutland without waiting for the pipeline. It gives us a real economic development boost.”
This summer Rutland’s downtown district is being repaved by Wilk Paving, a local company that uses compressed gas (CNG) to create its asphalt. Their gas is also delivered by NG Advantage’s virtual pipeline. Wilk’s owner Steven Wilk is pleased with his conversion to CNG, saying, “Being a local business and competing against large conglomerates we need every advantage we can get. Burning CNG … has created a win-win-win situation. Our costs are lower, our emissions are cleaner and our pricing is more competitive. A lower bid for repaving means that all Rutland taxpayers benefit.”
Rutland Regional Medical Center is Vermont’s second-largest health care facility. The hospital recently converted its boilers from burning fuel oil to burning cleaner CNG to heat the hospital, provide hot water, and create steam for the hospital’s autoclaves. The hospital is now emitting 26 percent less CO2, and much less NOx and SO2.
Foley Services, also in Rutland, operates a commercial and industrial laundry as well as a rental business providing linen and uniforms to commercial customers. They are one of the oldest family-run linen operations in the nation. Foley is currently in the process of converting from burning fuel oil to CNG. Mark Foley, Jr. owner of Foley Services, explained why it is so important for his company to convert to natural gas today, saying, “Our business is very competitive. We are the only Vermont based company in our industry, and our out-of-state and national competitors have access to natural gas and its significant cost advantages. Utilizing CNG will help us to continue to grow, to keep our costs in line with those of our competitors, and at the same time improve our environmental footprint. It’s the right decision for our company, our employees, our community and our customers.”
Gerry Myers, COO of NG Advantage, says, “We are proud to be able to bring the economic and environmental benefits of reliable natural gas to Rutland. Our teams are working to educate first responders, town officials, and the operations folks at local companies on the attributes of natural gas and are helping our current customers convert their boilers to burning CNG. We are also looking for new ways to serve more of the city in the interval before the pipeline is extended there.”
Vermont Gas Systems’ Communications Director, Steve Wark, added, “Natural gas service is a game changer for businesses. It will help Rutland’s businesses keep their costs lower, reduce emissions and strengthen the local economy. It is a privilege to work with NG Advantage as they help Rutland usher in new technology in advance of our pipeline that will benefit customers by helping to control costs and by lowering air pollution.”