News Column

Natural Gas: Cheaper, Cleaner and Under Control

Jan. 17, 2013

Staff -- HispanicBusiness

School buses line up at Nopetro fueling station (photo courtesy of Nopetro)
School buses line up at Nopetro fueling station (photo courtesy of Nopetro)

The search for a cleaner, more dependable fuel has presented Nopetro, a South Florida developer of natural gas fueling stations, with a place in the expanding alternative energy market.

Nopetro's mission is to design, build, operate and maintain compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquid natural gas (LNG) fueling stations across the southeastern U.S. The company opened its first CNG station in Tallahassee last September, and plans to open 15 more stations in the next few years.

"Revenues are growing 300 percent a year," Jorge Herrera, Nopetro's CEO and co-founder, told HispanicBusiness. "We see enormous growth in the years ahead. This is just the beginning." He declined to give any financial metrics.

Nopetro, fueled by private equity investors, was founded in Miami in 2007. It has offices there and in Tallahassee, Fla.

Mr. Herrera says the adventure has been worth the initial sacrifices that he and his business partner had to make.

"Although I enjoyed being a lawyer, I was always driven to entrepreneurship with the vision to make a difference," said Mr. Herrera, who left a successful law practice to launch Nopetro. "I saw an enormous opportunity within the energy industry, specifically with natural gas and alternative energies."

Nopetro has targeted Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa and other Florida cities as sites for its stations.

Present clients include Leon County Schools, the City of Tallahassee and the Waste Pro refuse collection company.

Advantages to Switching

Customers can save more than $20,000 a year per vehicle by switching from diesel, according to Nopetro, without a loss in performance. As another business plus, the abundance of natural gas in the U.S. inoculates the fuel against price volatility.

The Nopetro name "represents a movement to overcome our dependence on foreign oil and capitalize on domestic energy resources," Mr. Herrera said.

Natural gas also burns cleaner than diesel and gasoline, with carbon monoxide emissions reduced by as much as 70 percent and particulate matter reduced by 89 percent, according to a company fact sheet.

Mr. Herrera earned his bachelor's degree in business administration and economics from the University of Florida, and his juris doctor from Emory University School of Law. He is a former employee of the Coca-Cola Co.; Merrill Lynch; and Bressler, Amery & Ross PC.

Source: (c) 2013. All rights reserved.

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