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Compressed natural gas fueling station opens in Aberdeen to serve industrial and consumer alternative fuel needs

This Trillium CNG station on Old Philadelphia Road in Aberdeen is the first fuel station in Harford County that sells compressed natural gas.
This Trillium CNG station on Old Philadelphia Road in Aberdeen is the first fuel station in Harford County that sells compressed natural gas. (Courtesy of Trillium CNG / Provided photo)

The first compressed natural gas filling station in Harford County, and one of only a handful of CNG stations in Maryland, has opened in Aberdeen.

The station, which is owned and operated by Houston, Texas-based Trillium CNG, opened in October at 635 Old Philadelphia Road. It is designed primarily to provide compressed natural gas, a cleaner-burning alternative fuel, for trucks serving Frito-Lay's Aberdeen plant about a mile and a half away on Hickory Drive.

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Trillium CNG is part of the Love's Family of Companies, which is under Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores, based in Oklahoma City. Love's and Trillium own and operate CNG locations throughout the country, according to General Manager Bill Cashmareck.

Eight Harford County businesses, which are in or near the state-designated Greater Aberdeen/Havre de Grace Enterprise Zone, are seeking county approval for real property tax credits in exchange for capital investment and creating new jobs. Resolutions granting the tax credits were the subject of a public hearing before the Harford County Council Tuesday evening.

Frito-Lay is an existing buyer of compressed natural gas and entered into an agreement with Trillium to build the Aberdeen facility.

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"We have a big customer who wanted to expand their CNG presence," Cashmareck said.

Frito-Lay is investing $60 million to expand its Aberdeen plant by adding two manufacturing lines and warehouse and raw materials space.

The fuel station is open to other businesses that want to fuel their fleets, as well as members of the public.

"We are seeing some public traffic as well, which has been exciting," Cashmareck said.

The Aberdeen City Council approved a 42,700-square-foot expansion for the city's Frito-Lay Inc., facility, despite new Mayor Patrick McGrady's reservations about moving the plan forward too quickly.

The station has three fueling positions, but it does not have restrooms or a convenience store. Love's operates travel plazas throughout the country where truck drivers and travelers can purchase fuel – gasoline, diesel or CNG – eat and obtain travel items, according to the Love's website.

The station is about a mile and a half from Frito-Lay's plant at 800 Hickory Drive, plus it is near a natural gas pipeline and in close proximity to Route 40 and I-95.

"We try to triangulate all of those things and make the best real estate decision for the business," Cashmareck said.

Trillium CNG used a $500,000 grant from the Maryland Energy Administration to offset part of the costs of construction and equipment for the station, according to Cashmareck.

The grant was awarded through the MEA's Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Program. according to agency spokesperson Kaymie Owen. The program is designed to support "the development of public access, alternative fuel refilling/charging infrastructure" in Maryland, according to the agency website.

The Aberdeen mayor and council voted 3-2 in favor of a resolution to support a $1 million state grant to support Frito-Lay's $60 million expansion of its facility in Aberdeen, although the mayor and Councilman Goodin are opposed to government incentives to private businesses. The Harford County executive says this sends a chilling message to other companies looking to invest or expand.

Representatives of the MEA and Frito-Lay, along with Trillium CNG, will be in Aberdeen Dec. 2 for a dedication ceremony for the fuel station, according to Owen. Agency officials will present an additional grant for $80,000 to Frito-Lay, through the Freedom Fleet Voucher Program, to help offset the purchase of four new compressed natural gas vehicles, she said.

There will be a fueling demonstration with a Frito-Lay vehicle, too, according to a news release from the MEA.

"We are pleased to welcome this new compressed natural gas fueling station from Trillium to northern Maryland, which will provide companies like Frito-Lay with a sustainable alternative fueling option," MEA Director Mary Beth Tung said in an emailed statement. "The increase of compressed natural gas stations in the state demonstrates Governor [Larry] Hogan's commitment to protect the environment and promote our economy."

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Seven stations around Maryland sell compressed gas, including the newest in Aberdeen. Other stations are in Baltimore, near BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport, in Frederick and Montgomery and Prince George's counties, according to a map on the Alternative Fuels Data Center website.

Five of those are operated, but not owned, by Trillium CNG, according to Cashmareck.

"You have different companies that have sustainability programs that want CNG vehicles in their fleet to reduce their carbon intensity and tailpipe emissions," he said.

Heavy vehicles that run on natural gas, such as buses, garbage trucks, cement trucks and commercial trucks, are available, and consumers can purchase passenger vehicles that run on natural gas, according to Cashmareck. Passenger vehicle engines can also be converted to run on natural gas, he said.

There is an up-front cost to convert an engine, but the owner recoups that cost over time in fuel cost savings, according to Cashmareck.

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