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Natural Gas

We did it – Milton CAT develops the first mid-range generator powered by natural gas.

We took our first step in an exciting field – the portable, natural gas-powered generator market. “It’s been a bit of a long road, but where we have arrived makes it very exciting,” states Power Systems Vice President Scott Martel who explains that while Caterpillar has developed gas-powered generators, they are very big units. “Ours is the first in a size – 500kw – that makes it appropriate for a much larger number of customers.” Scott adds that Milton CAT is the only CAT dealer that has developed a portable gas-powered generator, and credits a talented and experienced team for the success of the initiative.

John Banks, Rental and Used Generator Manager, and Sten Levin, Emissions Business Manager, gave us a closer look at the new gas-powered generator; its advantages, requirements and potential users, as well as Milton CAT’s future plans regarding this new technology.

The unit was introduced and displayed at POWER-GEN International in Orlando, last December. POWER-GEN is the biggest power generation show in North America, and our unit not only was one-of-a-kind but it was very well received – “It’s in the size range that people were looking for to use in day-to-day operations,” according to John.

Probably the primary benefit is an economic one; natural gas is one sixth the cost of diesel fuel. The second advantage is environmental; this type of generator has extremely low emissions. “You can safely say that natural gas has a lower environmental impact than any other fuel currently used commercially,” explains Sten, who adds – “That alone makes this type of generator ideal for users whose image as good corporate citizens is an important component of their brand.”

That brings us to the next question, who are the ideal users of the new generator? First of all, the site needs to have natural gas service and the right setup to connect with pipes measuring three inches. John believes that another requirement would be for the company to be familiar with natural gas, having staff that’s already operating other equipment powered by it.

As far as what type of business would want our new generator, the range can be very wide, from manufacturing to education. “I can see a company that wants to run a gas-powered generator during their peak months to keep their energy costs down, whether they are making widgets or making diplomas,” says Sten, and John agrees. “Although the acquisition cost is higher for these units than for our diesel generators, the cost of operation is very attractive.” Another good prospect are other Caterpillar Dealers who may want to either buy our units, or just rent them. “We have had inquiries from other dealers, and we believe that could be a very good niche for this product,” comments John.

What are the next steps? “Building more!” exclaims Sten and John at the same time, and John continues – “Now that we have proven that we can develop it, people will want more, whether for economic reasons alone, or for environmental ones.”

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