Building a Compressed Natural Gas CNG Refueling Station
Natural gas vehicles (NGVs) are convenient for fleets whose vehicles usually return to the same location each night for refueling. Here's what you'll need to know if you're thinking about building an on-site CNG refueling station.
Fast-Fill vs. Time-Fill
Fleet fueling stations can be conveniently located on-site, using either the "fast-fill" or "time-fill" method of fueling.
- Fast-fill refueling is similar to using a gasoline or diesel pump and takes minutes to refuel.
- Time-fill refueling is usually done overnight, in about five to eight hours. A refueling station can be installed wherever natural gas is available.
Benefits of an On-Site Station
Building your own CNG station can have major benefits for your operation.
- Fuel production control. With your own station, you know that you'll have CNG available exactly when and where you need it, and with the capacity you need.
- Cost. Having your own on-site CNG station is generally less expensive than paying a markup and buying it from someone else. This often results in the lowest available fuel cost per gas gallon equivalent (GGE). You can also save on labor costs in the time saved to make refueling trips to remote stations.
- Flexibility. A station of your own can be tailored to specific needs. You can build the exact number of time-fill posts to refuel every NGV in your fleet. You can also choose to add fast-fill dispensers, especially if you choose to offer public access.
- Goodwill and the bottom line. If you choose to install public access dispensers ("pumps") as part of a new on-site station, it demonstrates your commitment to the community and clean air by providing the public with the ability to conveniently refuel NGVs. And, depending on how you price the CNG, a public station may also provide incremental revenue and Federal tax rebates to help offset the cost of building and operating the station.
How to Establish CNG Service
There is a specific process and certain requirements (PDF) necessary to establish natural gas service for a CNG refueling station. Advanced planning is required for SoCalGas® to design and install the facilities necessary to deliver natural gas to the CNG refueling station and information on natural gas flow rate, pressure and other items will be needed by you or your service provider to design the CNG refueling station.
Regardless of your approach to design and construction, we have staff available to help you get the information you need in a timely manner. Depending on the engineering and equipment involved, the entire process may take five to seven months. Getting us involved early on will help keep your project on schedule.
There are two key steps in the process:
- Complete an NGV Site Evaluation form (PDF, Word). Based upon this form, our engineering team will develop a preliminary natural gas supply plan and calculate the available pressure at the location you've chosen (important for selecting compression equipment). Up to four scenarios can be requested without charge.
- Complete the Request for Non-Residential Gas Facilities form. Once a decision has been made to proceed with construction, this form will authorize us to design the facilities needed to deliver natural gas to the location you've chosen. Once the design is complete, a final project cost, construction schedule and customer contract will be developed.
We've compiled a list of suppliers1 (PDF) that includes consultants, component manufacturers, installers and others, which may prove helpful to you in this process. Non-utility service providers may offer services that are the same or similar to the SoCalGas Compression Services Tariff, and customers are encouraged to explore these service options.
1 Provided for information purposes only. There are numerous qualified non-utility providers of products and services needed for construction and operation of natural gas compression facilities, but SoCalGas does not recommend or endorse the products or services of any particular party listed herein, or represent that the particular products or services are fit for any particular purpose or use. By publishing this list, SoCalGas is not acting in an advisory capacity, and does not assume any responsibility for use of the list by customers. Although commercially reasonable efforts are used in posting this list, no representation is made that it is complete or free from error. Related information is posted at socalgas.com. To be added to the list, please send an e-mail to NGVInfo@semprautilities.com. Vendors are listed alphabetically and the order of listing implies no preference.