Natural-Gas 'Filling Station' Company Opens State HQ in Tallahassee
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A new natural-gas company opened its headquarters in Tallahassee Tuesday and announced its plans to establish operations throughout Florida.
Nopetro, founded just two years ago, will begin building and operating 12 natural-gas stations in 11 Florida counties. The stations will mainly service large shipping-container trucks and school buses, and should be completed by 2017. According to CEO Jorge Herrera, each station will create eight jobs.
“What you have in this country is a market on its tipping point,” Herrera said.
Herrera and co-founder Jack Locke are promoting natural gas as the wave of the future for Florida and all of the Southeast. Nopetro has plans to eventually move into Alabama and Georgia.
Herrera and Locke say natural gas is 25 percent cheaper and 33 percent cleaner than diesel fuel, but Nopetro gets its gas from oil and energy companies that mine it in the United States.
Although some environmental groups oppose the hydrofracking process that is used to mine the gas throughout the country, natural gas is being heralded by others as a cheap, clean alternative to fossil fuels. Because a large portion of the country’s energy is provided by the Middle East, natural gas backers see it as a useful tool to decrease America’s dependence on foreign oil.
“We have the largest supply of natural gas in the world. We are the Saudi Arabia of natural gas,” Herrera said.
Parts of the U.S. are already adopting natural gas as a viable alternative energy source, especially for trucking. California has more than 300 natural-gas fueling stations, whereas Florida currently has one.
“We saw the tremendous growth in natural-gas-fueled vehicles on the West Coast and realized that we had an opportunity to get ahead of that curve in Florida,” Herrera said.
While the number of trucks on Florida’s roads that use natural gas is minimal, Herrera explained that is because of the lack of infrastructure -- something he and Nopetro are looking to change.
“We’re out there every day on the ground floor, pitching it to them,” he said.
The trucking industry in Florida can also see the writing on the wall, and knows it must eventually make the transition to alternative energies.
“Fuel issues remain a top priority with the trucking industry. Fueling stations are essential to making the transition to natural gas possible,” said Matt Ubben, vice president of the Florida Trucking Association. He added that while his organization is still focused on the bottom line and return on investment, “it continues to lend strong support for alternative energies.”
Officials with the Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce were also on hand Tuesday to boast of Nopetro’s decision to locate its headquarters in the state capital and its positive impact on the Leon County economy.“
We are excited to welcome this forward-thinking company to our diverse business membership and community,” said Sue Dick, President of the Greater Tallahassee Chamber.
Nopetro’s plans for natural gas fueling stations include locations in Tallahassee, Pensacola, Gainesville, Daytona, Orlando, Tampa, Fort Pierce, Fort Myers, Fort Lauderdale and Miami.
According to the company's website, Herrera and Locke founded the company in 2007. Both have degrees from the University of Florida (Herrera, an undergraduate degree in business administration and economics, and Locke a juris doctorate degree) and practiced law before forming Nopetro.
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