Photo courtesy of LCNGA.

Photo courtesy of LCNGA.

The Lancaster County Natural Gas Authority in South Carolina has begun replacing gasoline-powered Ford F-150 pickup trucks with bi-fuel F-150s as the utility plans to replace its entire fleet in six years, according to its general manager.

Earlier this summer, the utility added four bi-fuel 2015 F-150 trucks equipped with a gaseous conversion package costing $9,000 per truck. Vehicle modifiers E-Energy in Chester, S.C., and Altech-Eco in Asheville, N.C., supplied the vehicles.

The utility is on the verge of ordering four more bi-fuel trucks, said Tim Thornton, the authority's general manager. The utility will be able to run the trucks for an additional 40,000 miles and save about $2,000 per year in fuel costs per vehicle.

Few commercial compressed natural gas fueling stations exist in the state, requiring the authority to begin installing fast-fill and slow-fill CNG fueling stations at its facility. The agency has added a CNG station at its main office, which is plans to relocate to a satellite location after constructing a large-scale public fast-fill station.

"Somebody has to start building the infrastructure," said Thornton. "We're starting slow and are going to expand as we get more experience."

The authority maintains 26 fleet vehicles.

By Paul Clinton