Agility Fuel Solutions hosts national natural gas tour stop at Salisbury Plant
By Jessica Coates
SALISBURY — Commercial vehicles that run on natural gas haven’t quite caught on yet, according to Shawn Adelsberger, director of operations for Agility Fuel Solutions.
“It’s a very small community right now. We joke internally and say we’re part of a revolution,” Adelsberger said just before he spoke at the Natural Gas Vehicles for America tour stop Wednesday at the local Agility plant.
But Adelsberger anticipates it won’t be much longer before the number of commercial trucks that run on natural gas grows from 2 percent to a double-digit percentage.
“We built this facility for a future capacity, so we have room to grow and support the market as the market starts to transition more to alternative fuels,” Adelsberger said.
Adelsberger joined Agility Fuel Solutions — an international manufacturer of natural gas fuel systems — three years ago, just in time to help Agility search for a new Southeast facility.
On Wednesday, Adelsberger was able to show off that facility — located at 1010 Corporate Center Drive — to representatives from several major municipalities and companies when they stopped by on the second annual Natural Gas Vehicles for America “From Sea to Shining Sea” tour.
“We’re the only manufacturing site that they’re stopping at … along the way, so we’re pretty excited about that,” he said. “This is the first time we’ve hosted a stop with the rally, so we’re pretty excited to start this relationship with them and hope to be able to do it annually.”
The 10-city tour began in Wilmington, California, on June 5 and will end in Washington Friday. The purpose of the rally is to highlight why natural gas is better for vehicles than diesel — the fuel that is most often used to power vehicles.
Adelsberger said one of the reasons that natural gas is better — in addition to the fact that it is more environmentally friendly than diesel — is that natural gas vehicles are cheaper to maintain than diesel ones.
The main thing that keeps people away, he said, is the upfront investment in the technology.
Greg Edds, chairman of the Rowan County Board of Commissioners, is not fazed, though. He said in his speech at the Wednesday gathering that natural gas is an industry of the future.
“Some said that manufacturing is gone and it’s never coming back, but I disagree with that,” Edds said. “The old manufacturing is gone and it’s never coming back.”
Edds said earlier that the pursuit of emerging technologies like natural gas has helped Rowan County bounce back after a difficult economic decade.
“In the year 2000, Rowan County had a poverty rate that was pretty average, around 10 percent. But as the economy faltered, manufacturing jobs began to exit rural America. By 2010, the poverty rate had skyrocketed to 20 percent,” he said.
Edds said that although other communities on the Natural Gas Vehicles of America tour may have been bigger, Rowan County is one that most appreciated the tour being here.
“For us right now, this new natural gas economy is a bright spot,” Edds said, “and a source of hope for so many who have struggled to make their way in this new evolving economy.”
Agility Fuel Solutions employs 160 people.
Contact reporter Jessica Coates at 704-797-4222.
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