We’ve done quite a few stories on natural gas vehicles here at True Blue but my favorite ones are always the ones about people showing initiative. A great example of that is Castlen Kennedy.
I came across Castlen initially when I saw her name pop up in the CNGNow twitter stream. She’s planning an extended trip (Austin to Boston) in her new CNG-fueled Tahoe. Castlen has a degree in Public Affairs which might explain why she is doing such an excellent job using the web to promote her experience. You can read about the trip on her blog, follow her on Twitter and even become a Facebook fan. If you’re on Facebook, take some time to join AGA natural gas Facebook fan page.
Before you go though, I did have a chance to sit down with Castlen to get her thoughts on her upcoming trip. You can read on below and be sure to let us know what you think in the comments.
I am native of Houston, currently living in Austin as I pursue a Dual Masters at the University of Texas. I plan to graduate in May 2011 with a Masters in Public Affairs from the Lyndon Baines Johnson School of Public Affairs and a Masters of Arts in Energy & Earth Resources from the Jackson School of Geosciences.
In addition to being a full time student, I work part time for Apache Corporation, an independent oil and natural gas producer headquartered in Houston. Before returning to school in the fall of 2008, I spent seven years in various positions in both the public and private sector working on energy issues. Prior to joining Apache Corporation in 2006, I worked in the Office of Fossil Energy at the United States Department of Energy as a Senior Policy Advisor on oil and natural gas issues. Before DOE, I also held positions at S&B Infrastructure, RWE Trading Americas and Enron Corporation.
I am recently married and live with my husband, Cory, and our Boston Terrier, Ralphie. In my free time I like taking Ralphie to the dog park, working out and travelling.
Why did you decide to do this?
With a new understanding of our abundant natural gas resources in the US, it seems all things gas-related are getting more attention these days from transportation to power generation and Bloomboxes! A thesis is required for my dual masters, and I wanted to combine the energy aspect of my degrees with the policy piece and the transportation fuel possibilities of natural gas sounded really exciting. The idea to make it more than just a report and add an actual trip came about because I thought it would be a whole lot of fun and add an anecdotal narrative to my thesis.
As I talked to friends and family about my plans, I soon learned few people outside of the industry realized natural gas as a transportation fuel was even an option. I realized I could use the trip as an opportunity to educate my social circle on the technology and its related benefits and challenges. The website and blog naturally followed.
When does your trip start?
I will depart Austin on Wednesday, May 19th and expect the trip to take about a week.
Give us some insight into how you’re planning your trip?
The first step was figuring out where I could get a car. Apache, my employer, was looking into converting some vehicles for their car pool program, and I approached them about taking one of those on the trip. Once they agreed, I had to figure out the fuel capacity and efficiency of the Tahoe so I could estimate what my range would be on a full CNG fill. Once I had that number pegged, I was able to use a couple of different maps of stations to create the route. DOE has a good one online.
I wasn’t initially sure where I wanted to go, but knew I needed to go somewhere far away. I have never been to Boston and “Austin to Boston” had an obvious ring to it. The longest stretch on my trip is about 250 miles, and the Tahoe should be able to comfortably cover it.
What are your plans during the trip?
I want to make stops along the way to tour facilities and interview individuals to highlight different aspects of the fuel. For example, in addition to the obvious fuel stops, I plan to visit a dealership that does vehicle conversions, visit a natural gas production site, interview a fleet manager who has done a conversion, and maybe even visit an LNG facility. I have a lot of other ideas for stops I will make along the way, so you will have to stay tuned and follow the blog to see where I actually end up!