Fuel Management

CNG Use Expands Among Government Agencies

March 2013, Government Fleet - Feature

by Greg Basich & Thi Dao

The City’s CNG fueling station has 100 time-fill dispensers and two fast-fill dispensers. Riverside plans to expand its CNG infrastructure.
The City’s CNG fueling station has 100 time-fill dispensers and two fast-fill dispensers. Riverside plans to expand its CNG infrastructure.

Riverside, Calif.: Lowering Costs for the City & Community

The City of Riverside, Calif., began its CNG investment in 1994, purchasing a small number of vehicles and fueling up using a nearby public-access station and with FuelMakers, natural gas fueling appliances. In 2004, the City opened its own public-access fueling facility consisting of two fast-fill dispensers and 25 time-fill dispensers, according to Martin Bowman, fleet operations manager.

The City of Riverside’s commitment to CNG is clear — in the past 19 years, its CNG fleet has grown to approximately 250 vehicles. Its natural gas fueling station has expanded to 100 slow-fill dispensers, and Bowman said the City is looking to construct another 40 slow-fill dispensers. It is also constructing another publicly accessible station near the sewer plant that will have two fast-fill dispensers. Located in the corner of a commercial area, Bowman said the site will not only be a convenient fueling location for City units, but it could also be an important fueling location for heavy trucking fleets. It will also have 10 slow-fill dispensers for City units.

Off-Peak Fueling Lowers Costs

Owned and operated by the City, Bowman said the fueling centers charge only enough to recoup operating costs. In April 2012, the City charged its customers $1.33 per gasoline gallon equivalent (GGE) for natural gas. In comparison, it charged $3.85 per gallon of diesel and $3.77 per gallon of unleaded gasoline. This cost difference leads to significant fuel savings for the City as well as to the community fueling with CNG.

Bowman said one of the reasons he can keep fuel costs low is that the time-fill vehicles are timed to fuel at off-peak hours. “We fill them after midnight [during] off-peak utility hours, so the electricity is cheaper, and the cost to produce the CNG is cheaper. We pass that savings on to all our customers,” Bowman said. Drivers come in around 5 p.m., after their shifts, and connect vehicles to dispensers. However, fueling is timed to start at 11:30 p.m. using stored CNG, and the compressors start up around midnight. It takes about four hours to fill the vehicles, and they’re ready to go when drivers arrive in the morning.

Despite its heavy investment in CNG, the City has various other alternative-fuel vehicles, including electric, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), and E-85-­capable vehicles, as well as hybrids.

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