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Clean Energy Likes the Refuse Sector

Ray Burke, VP at Clean Energy Fuels of Seal Beach, Calif.

Ray Burke, VP at Clean Energy Fuels of Seal Beach, Calif.

“The solid waste sector is probably our fastest growing sector,” says Ray Burke, VP at Clean Energy Fuels of Seal Beach, Calif.

Clean Energy (WasteCon 3155), founded by Boone Pickens and now a public company, is the volume leader in natural gas vehicle fueling, and according to Burke is gathering momentum in the refuse sector, especially for compressed natural gas.

From 1997 to 2009, Clean Energy built 15 refuse sector fueling stations, Burke told Fleets & Fuels ShowTimes, in California, New York and Texas. So far in 2010, there are 15 on the books to be built, “and the year is not even done.”

Put another way, Clean Energy built one refuse sector station in 2007 (when Burke joined the company), two in 2008, and eight in 2009. “We’re in 12 states now,” he says. “It’s obviously taking off.”

Autocar operator Central Jersey Waste and Recycling (Trenton, N.J.) is a Clean Energy customer.

Autocar operator Central Jersey Waste and Recycling (Trenton, N.J.) is a Clean Energy customer.

The reason? Once fleets make the commitment to methane, their fuel is cheaper by the gallon than diesel. “On average we’re saving a dollar in today’s market,” Burke says. “It’s more than that in certain regions,” he adds. “It gets as low as 70¢ in some areas and a buck-fifty in others. But one dollar is a good average.”

Clean Energy recently won out as the natural gas supplier to Phoenix-based Republic Services (WasteCon 3137), which said in April that it will add 226 natural gas-powered trucks, representing some 20% of its orders this year, at ten sites in California, Washington and Idaho.

Clean Energy will build CNG stations at Gardena, Sun Valley and Chula Vista, Calif., and in Bellevue, Wash. It already fuels Republic in Boise.

The 20% rate of methane trash truck buys will likely continue in 2010, or slightly increase, said Republic fleet chief Roy Svehla. “We’re seeing demand for natural gas vehicles in non-traditional parts of the country,” he told F&F, naming the Northeast, Florida, and Houston.

In June, Clean Energy said it would supply Republic in Southern California, Consolidated Disposal in Los Angeles, and Solano Garbage (Fairfield, Calif.) through April 2015, supporting waste collection and recycling in 55 California cities and communities. The annual LNG requirement “is expected to exceed 3.5 million LNG gallons,” Clean Energy said.

For future growth, “Long Island is very similar to Southern California, says Burke. “Most of the cities franchise and contract out their services, and they require natural gas.” Smithtown, Huntington and Brook Haven, L.I. are expected to be followed by Babylon and Oyster Bay.

“The Chicago market is starting to heat up,” with Waste Management and Republic coming in, Burke says, noting that Groot Industries (a Gas Equipment Systems, Inc. customer) is already using CNG.

CleanScapes (WasteCon 3522) in Seattle may be followed by Bellevue and Kent, while Alpine Waste & Recycling in Denver may be followed by Western Disposal in Boulder. In a given region, “As soon as you have one on board, others join in,” Burke says. Newark & Philadelphia are looking at CNG for their garbage too, he adds.

Clean Energy is increasing its work in biomethane too. It produces 40,000 gallons per day from the McComma’s Bluff landfill in Dallas.

Sales & Volumes Up Markedly

Deliveries increased 31% during the second quarter just ended, and revenue rose nearly 58%, Clean Energy said Monday.

For the first six months of 2010, deliveries of CNG, LNG, biomethane and fuel for operations and maintenance services increased 42% to 59.7 million gasoline gallon equivalents, the company said, up from 42.0 million gallons in the first six months of 2009.

“We remain encouraged with the direction of our business and our industry overall,” said Clean Energy president and CEO Andrew Littlefair. He cited the refuse sector as an area of “continued growth.”

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