Tallahassee, Florida -- Can you imagine paying just $2.80 a gallon to fuel up your car? Sounds pretty good considering gas prices have been flirting with $4 a gallon all summer.
Fueling up for less than $3 a gallon, and saving more than 25 percent on your annual fuel costs, is not a dream any longer. It's a reality right now with the opening of a new natural gas fueling station in Tallahassee.
It is the first facility of its kind in Florida by Nopetro. The company plans to build 18 more in cities across Florida, including Tampa and Jacksonville, over the next several years.
This fueling station offers a glimpse of the future. Nopetro spent $3 million on the station and is ready to invest millions more to create an infrastructure of natural gas fueling stations along the East Coast.
Nopetro CEO Jorge Herrera is excited about a natural gas-fueled future for transportation. He says compressed natural gas offers the same energy content as gasoline, the same range, and the same torque and horsepower.
"Consumers should share that enthusiasm because not only are the economics there for us all but it's the fact of finally eliminating our dependence on foreign oil and doing so with a green fuel. Usually when you have green technologies, you can never obtain a good return. It doesn't make financial sense. The beauty of natural gas is it makes all the financial sense in the world and at the same time it's green and it's much cleaner than gasoline and diesel and it's domestic."
Just in the last few years, new technologies have uncovered 150 years worth of natural gas in the United States.
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam says now the U.S. has a chance to move toward a transportation future that relies much less on foreign oil.
"They can power our homes. They can rebuild our manufacturing base. Today the prices of natural gas in Asia and Europe are four to six times greater than they are in the United States. That's a game changer."
He says currently only one-tenth of one percent of America's mobile fuels are natural gas so ramping up that industry gives the country more energy security.
Putnam also believes it will save taxpayers money as fleets of school buses and government vehicles make the transition.
"We're excited to be here today at what is the beginning of a network of natural gas refueling stations that will keep Florida on the cutting edge, that create new job opportunities, that allow us to be more energy secure and allow us to run vehicles, manufacturing facilities and a host of other things in a cleaner way."
Herrera says the U.S. imports more than 50 percent of its oil from unstable, hostile countries and that could lead to an energy crisis here.
"We're transferring billions of dollars overseas in fuel. We're losing thousands of soldiers to protect our interests overseas. We don't need to do this. We were blessed with the largest supply of natural gas in the world. We have greater than 150 years of proven reserves."
Initially, Nopetro is targeting its product for medium and heavy duty fleets, such as school buses, delivery trucks and garbage vehicles.
The Leon County school district is converting its fleet of more than 200 buses to natural gas.
The market for consumer vehicles is growing too. Honda makes a car that runs on natural gas. The vehicle costs about $27,000.