Fair Oaks Farms lauds opening of compressed natural gas corridor

2013-03-04T14:00:00Z 2013-03-05T18:42:06Z Fair Oaks Farms lauds opening of compressed natural gas corridorLauri Harvey Keagle lauri.keagle@nwi.com, (219) 852-4311 nwitimes.com

FAIR OAKS | A new compressed natural gas station fueled by cow manure at Fair Oaks Farms completes a transportation corridor investors hope will be the first of many across the country.

Stakeholders gathered Monday at the AMP Americas' station at Ind. 14 and Interstate 65 for the grand opening. The site joins the station in Sellersburg, Ind., to fuel 42 Fair Oaks Farms dairy trucks. The trucks deliver milk to three Kroger grocery store dairies serving 560 retail stores in eight states, including Indiana.

Nate Laurell, founder and CEO of Chicago-based AMP Americas, said the Fair Oaks project is the first of what he hopes will be at least 10 more natural gas corridors by year's end on Interstate 65, Interstate 75 and Interstate 85. The goal, he said, is to have connecting corridors from Texas to the East Coast and Chicago to Orlando, Fla.

Mike McCloskey, owner of Fair Oaks Farms, said discussions on the $12 million project started four years ago and were made possible through partnerships between AMP Americas, Kroger, Indiana's Office of Energy Development, the U.S. Department of Energy's National Clean Cities program and others.

"It shows that government and private industry can work extremely well together," McCloskey said. "It is the most complex project that I have done as a businessman."

Representatives said the project reduces emissions from carbon dioxide by more than 20 percent, carbon monoxide by up to 75 percent and particular matter by up to 95 percent.

"Every company talks about sustainability or has somebody saying they're the vice president of sustainability, but this really is sustainability in action," said Dennis Smith, director of National Clean Cities.

Smith announced Monday that AMP Americas' has been selected by the U.S. Department of Energy to join the National Clean Fleets program, which works with companies aimed at converting fleets to alternative fuels. Only 25 companies are in the 2-year-old program, including AT&T, Coca-Cola and FedEx.

"There are 8,000 to 10,000 of these projects that could take off here," Smith said. "We're hoping people will look to this project as a leader and innovator. The key to that is getting the right people together."

McCloskey said four or five permanent jobs were created as a result of the project.

The compressed natural gas fueling station is just one such project creating sustainable fuels from manure at the farm. Fair Oaks Farms already is running its operations on compressed natural gas created by manure from the cows on the property.

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