Bob Kulp is a leader, not a follower. He is known as an early adopter — a business leader who offers new technologies and products before most of his customer base is even aware they exist. His easy embrace of new technologies has lead to the establishment of three successful and progressive businesses — Kulp’s of Stratford, a roofing and insulation company; Marathon Solar Roofing; and the most recent venture, Kulp Energy Solutions, a compressed natural gas (CNG) refueling station located in Stratford, Wisconsin.
Haven’t heard of compressed natural gas? Plenty of people haven’t — but Bob Kulp has. And he’s on the cusp of a CNG wave that is beginning to sweep the nation. While he is the first to offer CNG refueling, bi-fuel conversions for vehicles that allow drivers to utilize both CNG and gasoline, and filling stations for homes and businesses using CNG — others are rapidly following his lead. Riiser Energy will be offering CNG at its station near the Rib Mountain Travel Center and Kwik Trip will soon offer CNG at twenty-five stations in three states in the region.
President Obama recently visited a UPS station in Vegas that utilizes CNG. And while the only natural gas vehicle available right now is the Honda Civic, Ford, Kia, GM and Chrysler have all announced they are going to build work trucks with CNG capability.
“We’re seeing a landslide of interest in CNG in Wisconsin,” notes Kulp “because people are looking for alternatives to expensive fuel. CNG can cut your fuel costs by 50 to 70 percent. Who wouldn’t rather pay $1.80 per gallon than $3.80?”
Just what is CNG? It’s natural gas that is compressed to 3,600 pounds per square inch (psi). It’s stored in a vehicle’s fuel cylinder, flows into the engine’s combustion chamber and is ignited to power the vehicle.
Kulp Energy Solutions converts cars with bi-fuel systems. Your vehicle utilizes CNG first and then the computer automatically switches to gasoline power when the CNG tank is empty. The switchover is imperceptible when driving.
So just how does an entrepreneur obtain funding for such an innovative project? Further, how did Kulp grow awareness of CNG and the opportunities it presents? “MCDEVCO has been phenomenal. With their help we were able to obtain funding for the fueling and conversion station. Even more importantly, MCDEVCO’s support has helped us start a movement. They helped us network and educate the community and potential partners. MCDEVCO helped us post CNG meetings on the Wausau Chamber website, helped us set up a presentation at a Wausau Chamber Nothing But Networking event, and have held a series of informative meetings at Northcentral Technical College (NTC) with 80 to 100 people in attendance.”
“MCDEVCO and the Wausau Chamber helped us gather people who are excellent candidates for CNG,” continues Kulp, “CNG provides excellent opportunities for landfill owners and farmers. Both can be net energy exporters of CNG. Most landfills burn 90% of the gas they generate into the atmosphere. Now they can capture and scrub the gas and turn it into CNG fuel. If a farmer uses a methane digester, he can do the same. And then they can fuel their trucks and machinery with the gas they generate — and they can sell it to CNG fueling stations.”
Other attendees of the NTC meetings included heavy fleet owners. “Soon, new work trucks will be converted at the factory as opposed to having a conversion after market,” states Kulp. But not everyone can afford a new fleet. “We can take a vehicle and convert it for CNG using the same equipment as the factory does. Dart Transportation in conjunction with Anderson Windows is converting their fleet and installing a CNG fueling station.”
Why did Kulp expand from roofs, to solar, then vehicles? “Kulp’s is about intelligent energy consumption and conservation. That’s why we do it. CNG is the only fuel that is less expensive than what it seeks to replace. It is so incredibly abundant and inexpensive,” he adds.
“It’s a fun place to be — at the head of the pack,” concludes Kulp. “We were able to get our CNG flag planted thanks to MCDEVCO.”
Curious? Try the calculator on the Kulp Energy Solution website to see how CNG can benefit you.