Summit County fleet may convert to compressed natural gas
Summit County is considering converting a portion of the county fleet to compressed natural gas (CNG), as well as developing a CNG fueling station at the Silver Creek Sinclair gas station.
"There are some good economic and environmental benefits, so it’s generally a pretty positive move. It’s just how quickly we want to move in this direction," explained Summit County Public Works Director Kevin Callahan.
Because the Public Service Commission controls CNG at the pump, the prices are not as volatile as with gasoline, so the county could save money in the long-term, he said.
The county spends $800,000 to $900,000 a year on fuel for the county fleet. "The cost deference between a gallon of CNG and a gallon of fuel is about $2, so any portion of that that we can convert over would basically cut our fuel cost in half. So it’s pretty positive in that regard," he said.
Callahan also pointed out that because the fuel is developed in the United States, fuel shortages won’t be as much of an issue as with gasoline.
"And it lowers our carbon footprint, is cleaner and helps preserve the engines so we can help the vehicles run longer," he said.
On the other hand, Callahan acknowledged that problems could potentially arise because it is a new technology.
"Like any technology, there are operational problems, so if there is a problem with delivery of the gas, or computers or something like that, you can run into issues," he said. "Although, the vehicles would still be bi-fuel so I guess we can run on gasoline. But we’re kind of committing ourselves to a path assuming there will be support on that, so I guess that’s a risk."
There is currently a CNG fueling station at Top Stop on Park Avenue, but with only one CNG fueling pump, there is often a wait for people to use it. "So I think there is a pent up demand for additional facilities," he said.
Callahan will be proposing the development of a second CNG fueling station at the Silver Creek Sinclair gas station at the intersection of Interstate 80 and US 40 during the Jan. 16 workshop with the County Council.
"We will see what the council’s issues and concerns are then," Callahan said. "There are no commitments at this point. But we’ve had some conversations with other agencies in the region and they are interested in exploring it so this may be a direction we will be moving in."
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