Love’s Opens First Texas CNG Site (Slideshow)

Fueling station in Willis to be first of many in Lone Star State

Samantha Oller, Senior Editor/Fuels, CSP

Love's compressed natural gas

WILLIS, Texas -- Love’s Travel Stops cut the ribbon on its first fast-fill, compressed-natural-gas (CNG) fueling location in Texas this month, with a live filling demonstration and a promise of more CNG sites in the state to come. The 7,900-square-foot Love’s Travel Stop, which opened in August 2012, hosts two in-lane CNG dispensers.

During the grand opening, Bill Cashmareck, general manager of natural gas for Love’s, said the event was taking place on a week when diesel prices were averaging more than $4 per gallon; CNG, meanwhile, was selling at Love’s for $1.99 per gallon.

“We’re taking a domestically produced energy, and we’re putting it into an American-manufactured engine and into American-made trucks,” said Cashmareck. “In addition, those trucks are emitting 30% less greenhouse-gas emissions than their diesel counterparts.”

Gemini Motor Transport, Love’s own fuel-hauling fleet, is the anchor tenant at the site. However, local fleets also have shown interest in the CNG fueling location, including Dart Transit Co., which was at the grand-opening event and lent a truck for a filling demonstration. The natural-gas-powered truck filled up with 85 gasoline gallon equivalents (GGEs) of CNG in only 5.5 minutes, or at the rate of 15.5 GGEs per minute.

“This is an opportunity for us,” said Jim Nichol, regional sales manager for Dart Transit, during the grand opening. “We've been on the forefront of innovation with our trailers. With the CNG we’re capitalizing on some firsts for our industry to maximize payloads.”

The CNG fueling equipment setup at the Willis Love’s Travel Stop includes two 250-horsepower compressors and controls from ANGI Energy Systems with Xebec dryers; two Gilbarco dispensers with a Kraus CNG retrofit; and CNG storage tanks from CP Industries. The site can dispense CNG at a minimum of 10 GGEs per minute, no matter how many trucks are filling up.

“Instead of being dependent on fuel from the Middle East, we can depend on domestic production, and that's huge,” said Texas State Senator Robert Nichols (R), participating in the event. “It's a partnership in looking to the future that made this happen, and we’re proud to have the first Love’s CNG location in the state of Texas right here in Willis.”

Love’s Travel Stop’s CNG business launched in Oklahoma in 2011, where it has two CNG sites today. In Texas, the travel-stop operator plans to establish a base of eight CNG sites between Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. Next in line: a site in east Amarillo, Texas, set to open by second-quarter 2014, with the remaining sites to open later in the year.

“We’re excited to bring our first CNG station in Texas to Willis,” said Cashmareck. “This won't be our last.”

Founded in 1964 by Tom Love, Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores Inc. is based in Oklahoma City and remains entirely family-owned and operated. With more than 310 locations and 180 Love’s a Tire Care centers in 39 states, Love’s approximate growth rate is 20 stores per year.

Part of CSP's 2014 Convenience Top 101 retailers