Clean Energy Fuels Corp Is About More Than Saving Customers Money

As the world's cleanest commercial fuel, Clean Energy's Redeem can make a huge difference in achieving many companies' sustainability goals. And it's cheaper than diesel, according to Andrew Littlefair, the CEO and co-founder of Clean Energy Fuels  (NASDAQ: CLNE  ) . Littlefair sees great potential for Redeem in heavy-duty trucking fleets, such as those operated by and for Procter & Gamble  (NYSE: PG  ) and The Home Depot  (NYSE: HD  ) . With more and more companies setting ambitious sustainability targets, shippers that ask their truckers to switch to natural gas and, ultimately, Redeem can reduce their carbon footprint drastically while still cutting their fuel bill. 

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Andrew Littlefair: As you mentioned, last year we launched our clean fuel called Redeem. This is 90% less carbon. It's the cleanest commercial fuel available -- really, in the world. The stations that we have here in Southern California, most of them are using Redeem. We sold more renewable fuel last year than anybody else in the United States; about 15 million gallons.

We see a great potential to use Redeem for some of our heavy-duty fleets. These trucking guys, and specifically the shippers -- we refer to "shippers" as being the companies that hire truckers, so Procter & Gamble would be a good example -- they really pay for the fuel, not the trucker. The trucker passes the fuel cost on to the shipper.

Importantly, they're all consumer companies; I'm talking about Home Depot and MillerCoors and all these kinds of companies. They all have sustainability programs. They've changed a lot of the light bulbs, and they've replaced their plants with cactus and stuff like that. They've done some of the easy stuff, but really they can't do anything to get as big a bang for their buck as by asking their haulers to use natural gas first, and then if they can start to blend in Redeem, it really is significant.

Jason Hall: Reduce that carbon footprint even more.

Littlefair: It's huge. It's huge.

In fact, I think I'm right on this -- a little risk here -- but one of the big home improvement centers has an aggressive sustainability target, and I think by just asking 10% of their hauling to go to Redeem, it would satisfy that now, for 2020. So, it's pretty powerful and, at the same time, you're saving money.

We have high hopes for that, and we're cross-training all of our national (sales team) right now so that they understand how to sell Redeem and make sure the customer understands its value.

Hall: Right, absolutely. I think in terms of having bigger impact, as you said -- to wider sustainability goals that your average person might not associate with anything to do with trucking -- these goods have to get to the stores somehow.

Littlefair: They do, and I was a little surprised, Jason, that the sustainability -- of course, I've been in the environmental end of the business for a long time -- but I was kind of surprised that the sustainability goals are as potent as they are, and that these companies are taking them as seriously as they are. Of course, that's good for everybody, good for public health.

We have a fuel -- just regular old natural gas -- or this more sustainable natural gas, Redeem, that is really a benefit there.

Hall: I think the stigma that green costs more money has finally started to fall to the wayside, and businesses are understanding that ...

Littlefair: It doesn't always have to cost more money.

Hall: No, not at all.

Littlefair: We had some policies here at Southern California that, 10 years ago, from the good leadership of South Coast Air Quality Management District, that fleet operators were required to run natural gas if they had a fleet of a certain size.

There was some squealing about that at the time. Then it became clear, as the engine technology advanced and the price of oil went up, you're asking people to move to a cleaner fuel, and it's a lot cheaper. You're not putting anybody out of business. You're actually saving them money.

I tell our political friends upon occasion, "You can make money and do good, and also be great. Those things aren't mutually exclusive."

Hall: Not at all.


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  • Report this Comment On May 25, 2014, at 4:14 PM, Thurstondog1 wrote:

    Jason, I have really enjoyed your interviews with Mr. Littlefair. I like your technique of presenting this raw information to investors in order that we might be more confident in the leadership at CLNE and more capable of applying our own analysis to our investments. But, coming out of this interview, I have a question: What is Redeem?

  • Report this Comment On May 26, 2014, at 2:07 PM, TMFVelvetHammer wrote:

    Thanks! As a shareholder myself, I've made myself an expert on what they do as much as I can. It makes it easier knowing what to ask.

    Redeem is Clean Energy Fuels' brand name for biomethane, i.e. the "natural gas" that can be produced from landfills and animal poop, amongst other biological waste products.

    California and other states offer incentives for users that burn this fuel, because it's renewable, a product of our waste and not drilled like oil or conventional natural gas, and therefore potentially better (or less worse) for the environment.

    Waste Management also produces a lot of biogas that it uses for various things, including power generation.

    -jh

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