Once again, another busy week for natural gas developments in the United States:
In Oklahoma, the City of Norman’s City Council has approved $850,000 for a planned compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling station at the Max Westheimer Airport. According to city documents the filling station will include 15 slow-fill dispensers for refueling up to 30 CNG vehicles to gas up overnight. The station also will have an unspecified number of fast-fill dispensers, and part of the facility will be open to the public. An Annual fuel saving of approximately USD 52 000 is expected from the current fleet of 19 CNG vehicles.
Ohio’s Stark Area Regional Transit Authority (SARTA) has decided to make the switch to natural gas. Recently, the SARTA board unanimously agreed to sign a contract with Clean Fuels Ohio for construction of a compressed natural gas refueling station. It would be the county’s first public CNG facility, with construction slated to begin by the end of the summer and some buses likely to be operating with CNG by this fall.
“We did this to insulate ourselves from the price shock of diesel. We’re spending $200,000 more on fuel in 2011 than 2010,” explained SARTA CEO Kirt Conrad. SARTA will contribute $670,000 toward the cost of the $1.9 million facility; the remainder will be funded by a $570,000 grant from Clean Fuels Ohio and several federal transportation grants. While the initial investment in CNG buses is more expensive, the potential savings in fuel costs is significant, Conrad said. Based on current prices, SARTA would save roughly $350,000 alone in fuel.
SARTA plans to purchase 10 32-passenger and 14 15-passenger CNG buses over the next two years by following its typical bus replacement schedule. The goal, Conrad said, is to convert half the SARTA fleet to natural gas.
The Town of Smithtown in New York has purchased two new CNG buses to add to its NGV fleet. The buses, which will replace shuttle buses used by the town’s senior citizens department, are part of Smithtown’s “Clean Fleet” program, an effort to keep town-operated vehicles environmentally friendly.
Town Supervisor Patrick Vecchio said the Clean Fleet program already includes 22 natural gas-powered garbage trucks, 8 highway department general duty trucks, 7 natural gas-powered cars (used by various town inspectors), a natural gas-powered street sweeper and a natural gas-powered pick-up truck. Funds to buy the vehicles were supported by state grants. The town has also built two natural gas fueling stations in Hauppauge and Kings Park.
Smithtown was the first municipality in New York State to convert its entire refuse fleet from diesel to environmentally-friendly natural gas. The CNG refuse trucks are projected over the life of the contract to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides by 265 tons and particulate matter by 15 tons. Smithtown also expects to displace more than 1.5 million diesel gallons equivalent (DGE) of petroleum-based fuel.