More than 70 people were on hand for a ribbon cutting ceremony today for Columbia’s first compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling station.
Two of the pumps at the fueling station are reserved for the city of Columbia’s vehicle fleet. A third pump is open to private trucks while a fourth will be made available upon demand. The ribbon cutting comes just under a year after the Columbia City Council approved a partnership with California based company Clean Energy Fuels.
According to Eric Evans, fleet manager of the Public Works Department, converting the city’s vehicle fleet to CNG will save money.
"The fuel cost alone is about 60% of what petroleum fuel costs are," Evans said. "We're talking less than $2 a gallon here for gasoline or diesel equivalent."
Evans added that CNG vehicles only require scheduled maintenance every 500 hours. By comparison, gas and diesel vehicles require maintenance every 250 hours.
"Compressed natural gas is a much cleaner fuel. It doesn't have the carbon content that diesel and gasoline has. It doesn't take as much maintenance to keep it running in peak condition."
The agreement between Columbia and Clean Energy will last fifteen years, after which time the city will have the opportunity to purchase the station outright.
Third Ward Council Member Karl Skala says the opportunity could be a chance for the city to further invest in renewable energy.
“The city may be able to buy into a revenue generator that will increase our capacity to take a more aggressive approach to renewables in the future.”
The city currently has 8 compressed natural gas vehicles with 3 2 more ordered for this fiscal year.