Recently, we had the honor of speaking to Robyn Gillespie about her compressed natural gas (CNG) journey. Robyn purchased a CNG vehicle, installed an at-home fueling kit and signed on with Gas South. As a Gas South customer, she received our $200 bill credit for her recent CNG vehicle purchase. We are excited to feature Robyn’s story in this week’s blog post, as she talks about saving money and going green!
So Robyn, how did you first hear about CNG vehicles?
I work for an awesome company, Czarnowski, which is located in Austell. However, I live in Gwinnett County – so no matter how you slice it – 45 miles each way. When the PeachPass lane was rolled out, I was one of the early adopters even though it meant I was going to have to brown bag my lunch for the foreseeable future – paying a daily toll gets expensive fast. Then as luck would have it, gasoline jumped to over $4/gallon. Super painful! So my commute was not only long and time consuming, it was getting out of control from a cost perspective.
I’d longingly look over at the empty HOV lane while sitting in bumper to bumper traffic both coming and going from work daily. Once in a blue moon I’d see a single driver zoom by with the AFV tag – which meant they got to enjoy the open HOV lane without any other passengers. The epiphany of being able to enjoy the open road is what shifted my research into AFV options into high gear.
Now what? Electric? CNG? Biodiesel? Other new emerging technologies?
Options exist…but very limited choices and even more restricted availability of actual road ready vehicles. I ruled out electric almost from the get go as the mileage range is too restrictive and the cars are super small. Installing a CNG conversion kit on my existing car was a strong possibility. I stumbled upon the Honda Civic NGV model and instantly knew that was the one for me. Good sized car, lots of bells & whistles, good mileage range for my commute…I knew I had to have one! That’s when things got very interesting…only 3,000 of these cars make it to the US every year from Japan and the majority of them go to California, Oregon and Colorado. Fortunately, my persistence paid off and I was connected to Robert Thompson at Honda Mall of Georgia.
Why was it appealing to you to purchase a CNG vehicle?
Really the comfort of the Honda Civic NGV, reduced operating costs and the ability to have a natural gas fueling device installed at my home is what sealed the deal. Although there are several commercial CNG fueling stations around town the thought of filling up in your own driveway is a super-commuter’s dream come true!
So, which vehicle did you purchase and how long have you had it?
I purchased a brand new 2012 Honda Civic NGV from Honda Mall of Georgia. Once I felt as though I had a solid solution to my commute challenge I “introduced myself” to Robert Thompson at HMoG (he has likened me to a Rat Terrier…persistent and high energy!). We exchanged several emails about the car, service, pros, cons, etc. Then in late February 2011 Robert called me to say one of the “magic” cars had arrived on the lot. We set an appointment for later that day and for me it was “love” at first sight! Took a test drive, talked some more and did my best to charm Robert…as he had several other folks interested in the car too. The next morning I called, made an offer and two days later signed the papers…and rode off into the sunset…literally.
The next big hurdle for really making the car an easy one to drive was to get the special home pump installed. Robert hooked me up with several folks and I started making calls. Chuck Moon and his folks at Atlanta Gas Light (AGL) were absolute gems to work with. As I’m usually in a client support role for my work it was really nice to be treated like a “client.” Chuck’s team took really good care of me and helped get all the permits, paperwork and information rolling. It took about 30 days (granted I was one of the first real home installations) from start to finish. The Fuelmaker Pump was on its way from Italy to AGL and as soon as it arrived the gears were put in motion to get it installed. Tony, from AGL and Kenny Greene, the installer, came out to the house and by the end of the day the pump was in and I was fueling.
How do you fuel up?
Carefully! Just kidding 🙂 I lease the Fuelmaker Pump from AGL. They came out and installed it directly to my home’s natural gas line. So literally I fuel up in my driveway. Attach the hose to the car, hit start and tah-day! the pump starts filling the tank. Really super simple!
And how long does one tank last?
The Honda Civic NGV’s tank will hold the equivalent of 8 gallons. So based on the average highway mileage per gallon I can go between 240 – 300 miles before I have to refuel. The pump at my home fuels at the rate of 1 gallon per hour – so a short overnight pump has me totally refueled and ready to roll the next morning. The furthest distance I’ve traveled so far in my “magic” car has been to the Blairsville area in North Georgia and back – approximately 250 miles RT…so I had plenty to spare. Plus, I know if needed I could always hop off at Honda Mall of Georgia and get a quick couple of gallons in an emergency on my way back home.
How do you like driving your CNG vehicle? And would you recommend switching to CNG to others?
So this adventure has been almost two years in the making. All my original apprehension evaporated quickly once all the pieces fell into place. I’ve been driving my “magic” car on average 90 miles a day. As the car has an AFV tag, I don’t get hit with any PeachPass fees and I can cruise in the HOV lane all the way to and from the office or airport. And I have a great home natural gas partner in Gas South! My commuting expenses have dropped from an average of $18+/day to around $6/day and I’m saving 20-30 minutes in traffic each way. Talk about a win-win!
I definitely recommend looking at the options available and then matching up your needs against the possible solutions. I really like CNG because the infrastructure is in place now it’s just a matter of building the CNG driving community to really make it less alternative and more mainstream. Every time I pass a gas station I just giggle at the price per gallon and keep on driving!
And then another surprise…in a great way…my CPA was able to get me $1000 in tax rebates for owning an AFV and also having the home CNG pump…this just keeps getting better and better 🙂
Thank you, Robyn! What a great story. For more information on compressed natural gas, visit Gas South’s CNG program page here.