Transportation Natural Gas in California

Natural gas (which is composed primarily of Methane, CH4) is used as a transportation fuel as either Compressed Natural Gas or Liquefied Natural Gas. Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) represents the majority of natural gas use for transportation. Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) is natural gas in a liquid form that is clear, colorless, odorless, non-corrosive, and non-toxic. LNG is produced during a process known as liquefaction, where natural gas is cooled and condensed below its boiling point, to a temperature of -2600 Fahrenheit . Find more information at the Alternative Fuels Data Center Natural Gas Fuel Basics page.

NGVs are recognized as alternative fuel vehicles under the Energy Policy Act of 1992. When compared to gasoline and diesel, CNG and LNG have lower carbon-intensity (according to the CA-GREET 2.0 Model) and may provide other air pollution benefits. However, NGVs tend to operate at a 15 to 20 percent lower fuel economy than their diesel counterparts.

For over 25 years California has used natural Gas in transportation. Today passenger cars and trucks, transit buses, school buses, package delivery vehicles (such as UPS and the U.S. Postal Service), as well as refuse and recycling trucks are fueled by natural gas. There are more than 150,000 natural gas vehicles (NGVs) on America’s roads, and over 900 public natural gas refueling stations nationwide. In California, since 2003, natural gas use in transportation has more than doubled from under 80 million gallons to 160 million gallons of gasoline equivalent. It is estimated that 88 percent of this value is used in medium and heavy duty vehicles.

Natural Gas Stations in California and the U.S. as of June 2016

Public Stations Private Stations Total Stations Total
  CNG LNG CNG LNG CNG LNG All
California169171403030947356
United States92375756601,6791351,814

Source: www.afdc.energy.gov/fuels/stations_counts.html

Transportation Natural Gas Prices

Natural gas has historically been less expensive than gasoline and diesel fuel on an energy-equivalent basis . Fuel savings can make NGVs more cost effective when diesel prices are high despite the higher infrastructure, operation, and maintenance costs. This and fleet rules in the South Coast Air Quality Management District have driven the adoption of NGVs in the transit sector. In 2013, 20% of all transit buses in the United States were powered by natural gas (according to the American Public Transportation Association).

The price paid for natural gas varies in response to petroleum and natural gas market prices, and also depends on how and where it is fueled. The U.S. Department of Energy publishes average nationwide prices on a gasoline gallon equivalent basis and a historical price chart is provided below. For the specific price you would pay, please contact your local natural gas utility.

Alternative Fuel Prices

line graph comparing alternative fuel prices in the U.S. over several years.  Complete data available at http://www.afdc.energy.gov/fuels/prices.html

Source: U.S. Department of Energy, April 2016.

Looking to fill up? Find a natural gas station near you.

See the Energy.Gov Alternative Fueling Station Locator and select Compressed Natural Gas or Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) fuel.
Current prices can be found at third party websites.