Clean Energy, GE Capital to finance natgas truck purchases


LOS ANGELES, Oct 21 (Reuters) - Shares of Clean Energy FuelsCorp rose 4.5 percent on Monday after the company saidit had struck a deal with GE Capital that will helpcompanies finance purchases and leases of pricey naturalgas-fueled trucks.

Clean Energy, which provides natural gas fuels fortransportation, said that under the terms of the agreement,truck fleet operators must clinch natural gas fueling contractswith Clean Energy and then will be able to apply for loans andleases from GE Capital.

Newport Beach, California-based Clean Energy then said itwill help offset the monthly cost of a natural gas truck to makeit comparable to the cost of a diesel truck.

Natural gas costs about $1.50 less per gallon than diesel orgasoline, according to T. Boone Pickens-backed Clean Energy.

Greenhouse gas emissions from natural gas trucks are about20 percent lower than those of diesel trucks. But truckcompanies must fork over an extra $40,000 to $80,000 per naturalgas truck. A heavy-duty diesel truck starts at about $100,000.

"You've removed that upfront capital differential that stillfavors diesel right now," said Ascendiant Capital analyst CarterDriscoll, who has a "buy" rating on Clean Energy shares. "Ifyou've removed that upfront hurdle you are talking about pureoperating savings."

Almost a year ago, Clean Energy Fuels said it would buy twosmall LNG plants from GE's oil and gas unit. GE will provide upto $200 million in financing for those plants. GE Capital is aunit of General Electric Co.

Clean Energy shares were up 52 cents, or 4.5 percent, at $12in afternoon trading on the Nasdaq.

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