NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- I love natural gas and energy in general. I follow natural gas and oil using U.S. Natural Gas Fund ( UNG) and United States Oil Fund ( USO) exchange-traded funds because of their ease in trading.Add in the S&P 500 ETF ( SPY) and PowerShares 100 ( QQQ) and you can ascertain the entire economy as quickly as any other method. WPRT), Clean Energy ( CLNE), and Cummins ( CMI). Energy independence isn't the only benefit from utilizing natural gas, at current prices; natural gas is a lot cheaper per mile to operate than gasoline or diesel. Currently, there are two barriers slowing widespread implementation. The first is the upfront cost. It costs more to enable a vehicle to operate on natural gas, especially a dual-fuel vehicle. Because natural gas is cheaper, the upfront costs can more than be made up from lower operating costs. By some estimates, commercial trucks using Westport's or Cummins' natural gas engines can realize a breakeven point in about 12 to 14 months. Second, refueling stations aren't as prolific as diesel stations, much less gasoline. That's quickly changing, in part, thanks to Clean Energy. Clean Energy Company operates over 300 natural gas fueling stations in the United States and more in Canada. It takes time to build critical mass, but the concept is catching on based on Ford ( F) and General Motors ( GM). F-150 and Chevy Silverados capable of burning natural gas instead of gasoline are now available. Dodge Ram rounds out the pickup trucks and Honda ( HMC) makes a passenger vehicle. Even BNSF Railway, the largest railroad in the U.S. and a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway ( BRK-B), started testing natural gas in locomotive engines developed by General Electric ( GE) and Caterpillar ( CAT).
I prefer writing options because sellers are paid for holding time and selling a put is lower risk than buying the underlying shares. As of writing, the January $18 strike put options are selling for about 78 cents. If we sell this contract and natural gas prices implode causing the buyer to exercise, the cost basis is $17.22 cents. Using the back of the envelope math, under $17 isn't sustainable because producers can't make money and will take rigs offline, stop development, etc. Absent a significant production cost drop or black swan event, it's not probable UNG will fall and stay below $17 for long. If it does happen, simply sell calls against the shares, collecting option premium until a recovery or it doesn't make sense to hold any longer.
Read: Unwarranted Apple Hate If UNG remains near $19.81 at expiration, we keep the entire premium as profit and can rinse and repeat. The maximum profit is 78 cents, and that's ok by me because I think about how much I can lose, not how much I can make. At the time of publication the author had no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Follow @RobertWeinstein This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.