One of the largest gasoline chains in the Midwest is investing in a cleaner alternative to gas.
Kwik Trip is expanding the availability of its compressed natural gas pumps.
People have used natural gas for many different things over the years, including heating and cooking purposes, but using compressed natural gas has only recently started to catch on as an alternative fuel source for cars.
“We really see it as a mainstream fuel,” said Joel Hirschboeck, Kwik Trip's superintendent of alternative fuels. “That's how we're bringing natural gas to the market.”
The Kwik Trip in Minnesota City is the newest location for the company's compressed natural gas fueling stations.
Selling up to $2 cheaper than an average gallon of gas, Hirschboeck said business is growing.
“It is catching on,” said Hirschboeck. “We're working with probably a dozen fleets right now, just in our regional area, that have converted.”
One of those fleets is Fastenal, a construction company that just invested in seven semi-trucks that run solely on compressed natural gas.
Chris Duffenbach, the company's logistics manager, said saving the company hundreds of dollars in fuel prices is only one of many benefits.
“There's actually less maintenance that has to be done on these,” said Duffenbach. “There's less emissions, so less breakdown is what we're hoping.”
But you don't have to be a big operating company to take advantage of the cleaner- burning fuel.
Mandy Rupprecht is a Kwik Trip employee.
She and her husband just bought a car that runs on the alternative fuel. What used to be a $50 pinch at the pump is now just $11.
That means more money in her pocket for other important things.
“Oh, probably pay off our gas bills from before,” Rupprecht laughed.
While compressed natural gas offers many benefits, the Minnesota City station is only the third in the area, next to La Crosse and Rochester Minn.,to carry the fuel.
So as more stations are added in time, the benefits will come, too.
“We're throughout the country, our distribution centers,” said Duffenbach. “We need to have fueling stations out there where we can fuel, and also you need to have the mechanics or the maintenance shops to work on them, and that’s building and continuing to go. So that will be much easier for us moving forward.”
Hirschboeck said of all the mining and drilling opportunities Kwik Trip has discovered, it’s enough to supply more than 100 years of natural gas.
Kwik Trip plans to open nine more compressed gas fueling stations next week.
By this time next year, the company hopes to have 30 stations up and running in the tristate area.