By NICOLE GUGINO
OBSERVER Assistant News Editor
SHERIDAN - Cotton Drilling Co. Inc. has been around for almost 35 years. It recently evolved its operation to now offer compressed natural gas to the public.
OBSERVER Photo by Nicole Gugino
Pictured is the compressed natural gas filling station at Cotton Drilling Co. Inc. in Sheridan.
Don Cotton said the location on Center Road in Sheridan, is the only one in the county where he sells natural gas from his own wells.
He owns several hundred wells throughout the county. National Fuel transports the gas to the filling station, where it is compressed and dried and is sold to the public as a fuel source.
"All the major car companies produce cars that run on natural gas. Also, most older cars can be modified to run on it," David Ligammari, of Cotton Drilling, said.
Cotton said switching the company's vehicles to natural gas-run vehicles is what gave them the idea to open the filling station in February.
"We switched all our vehicles to natural gas about four years ago and it operated so well we decided to open it up to the public," he said.
CNG costs about half the price of gasoline at a price of $1.90 per gasoline gallon equivalent in Chautauqua County.
Cotton's son, Brian, said he wasn't so sure about going to CNG-powered vehicles but was proven wrong.
"I was skeptical at first but it worked out so well and we saved so much money on fuel, it paid for itself in a year," he said.
Ligammari said all of the city of Buffalo's garbage trucks run on natural gas and many major cities now run vehicles on natural gas.
"I think the more people who are aware the more people will be on board," Brian Cotton said.
For more information on Cotton Drilling's CNG filling station go to cottondrilling.com.
There is another CNG filling station in Barcelona, however, Cotton is the only one to sell his own gas.
Consumer Reports notes that natural gas cars have similar performance, lower emissions and reduce reliance on foreign oil. However, they also report natural gas cars are more expensive than the similar gasoline model and a conversion can cost several thousand dollars. The report also points out the difference in fuel cost but also note in the Honda Civic Natural Gas has a larger fuel tank and lower miles per gallon. The report is available at www.consumerreports.org/cro/2012/03/the-natural-gas-alternative/index.htm.