Clean Energy Fuels (Nasdaq: CLNE) started the year as a risky company with a lot of potential in the alternative-fuels market. But potential can be fleeting when trying to build a business on something a little unconventional like natural-gas fuel.

Fast-forward 12 months, and investors should be heartened by the progress the company has made, not only on partnerships but on financing its long-term future.

A vote of confidence
Possibly the most noteworthy event this year was a $150 million investment in the company by Chesapeake Energy (NYSE: CHK). The investment will help fund 150 new liquefied natural gas (LNG) truck-fueling stations around the country. The strategic truck-stop locations will be along major trucking corridors and will help build out what the company is calling "America's Natural Gas Highway."

Partners line up
But a natural-gas highway is nothing without trucks on the road to use the fuel. So here are just a few of the noteworthy companies using Clean Energy Fuels in one way or another to power their vehicles.

  • Waste Management (NYSE: WM) contracted with Clean Energy Fuels to provide maintenance and repairs for its compressed natural gas (CNG) fuel stations. The company has around 1,000 natural-gas-powered trucks and 17 fueling stations with more expansion under way.
  • United Parcel Service (NYSE: UPS) signed a seven-year contract with the company to fuel a new fleet of 48 LNG transport trucks near Las Vegas.
  • The Dallas Area Rapid Transit awarded Clean Energy Fuels a $40 million contract to design and build four new CNG stations to support an anticipated 452 CNG buses and 200 CNG paratransit vehicles.
  • Tulsa, Oklahoma's Metropolitan Tulsa Transit Authority also contracted with the company to build and operate a CNG station that will support a transition of 100% of its diesel-powered bus fleet to CNG.

As companies like Westport Innovations (Nasdaq: WPRT) make it easier for both new and used vehicles to make the transition to natural gas, the fuel gains more and more demand.

Financial results will follow
As Clean Energy Fuels builds out its infrastructure, profit may be fleeting in the short term. But it's all an investment that will leverage growing fuel usage in the future. In the most recent quarter, the company reported that product revenues rose 56.8% year over year, and if that trend continues, the future looks bright for Clean Energy Fuels.

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