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N.J. Natural Gas announces latest compressed natural gas station

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New Jersey Natural Gas has started work on a third compressed natural gas refueling station in South Jersey, the utility announced.

The $2.4 million station will serve the beer-and-wine distributor Shore Point Distributing Co., in Freehold, which is planning to add natural gas tractor trailers to its fleet in 2014. The station also will be open to the public.

In addition to the Freehold location, NJNG is building compressed natural gas stations in Toms River at a hauling site for Waste Management Inc., and in Middletown at the Middletown Department of Public Works — both of which will be open to the public. The total cost for all three stations, which are scheduled to be complete by the end of 2013, is estimated at $8 million.

The stations are part of a pilot program New Jersey Natural Gas has implemented to help stimulate the market for natural gas vehicles in the state.

Tom Massaro, vice president of marketing and business intelligence at New Jersey Natural Gas, said the market for natural gas vehicles is growing rapidly in the state, particularly because the refueling infrastructure is growing as well.

"We used to receive inquiries every other month, a couple times a year, and now it seems like natural gas vehicles are definitely in the news, if not on a daily, a weekly basis," Massaro said.

The bulk of that growth has been in fleets of waste collection and transfer vehicles and in the transit industry, which is most of what the New Jersey Natural Gas stations are looking to serve when they open later this year.

But Massaro said the stations also will be open to the public, which is an area where natural gas vehicles are also growing. Honda makes a Civic that runs on natural gas, Massaro noted, and Ford has introduced an F150 truck that runs on the fuel, as well.

"It's limited, but it is growing," Massaro said. "You're also starting to see other manufacturers beginning to roll NGVs (natural gas vehicles) off the line."

Reporter Mary Johnson is @mjohns422 on Twitter.

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