In the Department of Antioquia, in Colombia’s northwest, utilities company Empresas Públicas de Medellín (EPM) has decided to broaden its activities to embrace the business of natural gas for transportation. EPM’s Board says the move is in keeping with its socially responsible actions and respect for the environment, and a firm commitment to the concept of sustainable mobility. Consequently it has approved an investment plan that includes the purchase of service stations, building new ones and form alliances and agreements with various market players to boost fuel use in the region.
The CEO of the organization, Juan Esteban Calle Restrepo, revealed that for several months EPM’s gas management has been working on the design of a strategic plan to realize this new project. EPM will be owner-operator of a network of supply stations at key points throughout the Department of Antioquia, of which Medellín is the capital city. The project will enhance service provision for more than 42 thousand vehicles in the region currently using compressed natural gas (CNG). NGV growth rate is more than 5,000 vehicles annually, fueling at 62 stations, none of them currently owned by EPM.
“With this decision we are giving overwhelming support to sustainable mobility systems, and under that concept we want to encourage the widespread use of CNG in all transport fleets of the private and public business sectors and among private owners, so that Antioquia is leader in the use of clean fuels in the country,” said Calle Restrepo, to explain the scope of the project.
The fleet of the Municipal Administration of Medellin, with decentralized fleets including public transportation company Metroplús, would be the first to benefit from this initiative. EPM, meanwhile, has been gradually converting vehicles previously operated with diesel and gasoline. To date, 187 operate with CNG and another 18 are in the process of conversion.
It is the policy of the entity that future expansion or replacement purchases for its fleet give priority to vehicles that use natural gas as fuel. This same practice is being replicated in UNE (EPM’s telecommunication company) and other subsidiaries comprising the EPM Group.
Similarly, solutions are being developed for fleets operating dedicated CNG vehicles. Such is the case with Metroplús, which now has 20 dedicated buses and plans to acquire 65 more next year.
“Beyond the economic results that can be generated by diversification to our new portfolio, we want to preserve the environment and contribute to the quality of air we are breathing every day, we and our families. It is a public health issue, a welfare issue that we have to achieve together. Through this new business line, EPM is proposing a tangible solution to the issue of environmental pollution, and also hopefully we promote cultural change, as is happening in many cities in the U.S., Asia and Europe. We want to start with the municipalities of Antioquia, but we will not end there,” said the manager.
Calle Restrepo explained that as part of the investment plan designed for this new business, EPM will continue to drive the use of CNG through special financing programs and delivery of bonds to facilitate the conversion of vehicles, as it has done in recent years.
(This article compiled using information from an EPM press release)