Alternative fuel company opens in Pell City

Operations Director Matt Hyde explains some of the modifications made to this vehicle so it could operate on an alternative fuel. Brian Schoenhals/The Daily Home

Operations Director Matt Hyde explains some of the modifications made to this vehicle so it could operate on an alternative fuel. Brian Schoenhals/The Daily Home

A company that specializes in the modifications of vehicles, offering customers a more cost effective way of driving with alternative fuels, officially opened its doors this week in Pell City.

“The City of Pell City welcomes Phoenix Energy in their new location on Lewis Lake Lane,” said Pell City Mayor Joe Funderburg.

The company relocated from Birmingham to Pell City with an initial capital investment of $550,000.

Operations Director Matt Hyde said Phoenix Energy started out with just two people, Hyde and his father Ken Hyde, who serves as the president of Phoenix Energy.

The company now employs 13 people, and Hyde expects continued growth for the company as it settles into Pell City.

“They have plenty of room to grow here, so we are excited for them,” said Don Smith, executive director for the St. Clair County Economic Development Council.

The business converts ordinary gas-guzzling automobiles, and even some fuel efficient vehicles, into more eco friendly, gas saving transportation for individuals and companies.

Hyde said the company is more like a family business.

“We may not share the same last name, but we’re all family here,” he said.

Phoenix Energy started operations in Birmingham in 2004.

In 2004, Matt Hyde talked his father Ken into coming out of retirement so the two could start their new business Phoenix Energy. The company recently moved to Pell City. The two men stand next to a natural gas fueling station at their new store in Pell City. Brian Schoenhals/The Daily Home

In 2004, Matt Hyde talked his father Ken into coming out of retirement so the two could start their new business Phoenix Energy. The company recently moved to Pell City. The two men stand next to a natural gas fueling station at their new store in Pell City. Brian Schoenhals/The Daily Home

The company’s new home is on Lewis Lake Lane, which is off of U.S. 231 South, behind the Wal-Mart shopping center in Pell City.

Hyde walked around the new shop, showing off some of the automobiles the company converted from gasoline to natural gas or to propane.

Some of the vehicles the company converted use a blend of diesel fuel and natural gas.

The company installs natural gas or propane storage tanks or cylinders onto vehicles, which are not visible.

“The biggest cost is the cylinders,” Hyde said.

Hyde said the initial cost of converting your vehicle from gasoline to natural gas may seem high, but drivers will actually save money once they get over “the sticker shock.”

Hyde said the actually the conversion cost is about $6,500 and up.

Ken, president of Phoenix Energy and who is originally from Childersburg, said if someone drives 20,000-30,000 miles or more in a year, the cost of the conversion is returned within two years from money saved in fuel cost.

“You can’t get a better return on your money at Wall Street,” Ken said.

His son added, “The more you drive, the quicker the payback.”

The younger Hyde said the vehicles Phoenix Energy converts run on both gasoline and alternative fuels.

He explained once the alternative fuel is exhausted, the vehicle will use the gasoline in the vehicle’s normal gas tank.

“You are going to use gas because natural gas is not readily available as gasoline,” he said.

Hyde said alternative fuels burn cleaner, which will greatly extend the life of your engine.

“Gasoline has a lot more carbon,” Hyde said. “Your engine will last twice as long (with natural gas), because there is less carbon deposits.”

He said at times people don’t even know which fuel they are using to operate their vehicle.

“The vehicle systems have come a long way in the past five years,” Hyde said.

He said there are natural gas stations scattered across the state, including fueling stations in Trussville, Tuscaloosa, Evergreen, Athens and Mobile.

Phoenix Energy plans to offer alternative fueling services at their Pell City location within the next year.

Article by: David Atchison/The Daily Home

Original article: http://www.dailyhome.com/view/full_story/23908179/article-Alternative-fuel-company-opens-in-Pell-City?instance=home_lead_story

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