A big part of a sustainable transportation system is expanded use of alternative fuels in all modes of transport, from private autos to marine vessels. One of the companies leading this effort is Kwik Trip, a fueling station and convenience store company headquartered in La Crosse, Wisconsin, that is investing boldly in alternative fuels
In addition to selling E85,biodiesel, and Stage 1 electric charging for vehicles, Kwik Trip has committed to building a functional compressed natural gas (CNG) infrastructure throughout Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa, as well as converting its own fleet to natural gas power.
In April 2012 Kwik Trip opened a first-of-its-kind Alternative Fuels Fueling Station in La Crosse. The station is home to Kwik Trip’s ever expanding fleet of CNG and liquefied natural gas (LNG) powered vehicles and is open to outside customers. (CNG is primarily methane gas that is compressed at normal temperatures and requires strong, high-pressure containers. LNG is also methane that, when subjected to very cold temperatures and high pressures, enters a liquid state.) By opening this station, Kwik Trip has shown its commitment to the environment and dedication to promoting new clean-fuel technologies. The alternative fuels are sold in liquefied and compressed form at 15 of the 430 retail filling stations the company operates in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa. Currently, 34 of the firm’s own trucks and tractors use LNG and CNG because managers wanted experience with both types. Vehicle price premiums range from $30,000 to $60,000 each, depending on the fuel tank package.
Joel Hirschboeck, Kwik Trip’s Superintendent of Alternative Fuels, says, “We had Agility (the fuel system supplier) come out and install the vehicle tank systems on site, and we now can install the systems on our own. We have 15 natural gas stations, and the cost for each was $750,000 to $1.5 million,” with LNG equipment being more expensive. Natural gas fuel (either CNG or LNG) is half the price of diesel, so the break-even point for trucks is 200,000 miles. Kwik Trip sells about 1,000 gallons of natural gas a day, including sales to the public, and the fleet’s trucks use the same public facilities.