The City of Athens, Ala., is opening a new fast-fill CNG station that will serve natural gas vehicles in the City’s fleet and is open to the public. The City currently has 12 natural gas-fueled vehicles in its fleet.

The fast-fill CNG station cost $614,360 to build, according to the City and Athens Gas funded the project. The Athens Gas Department ran the underground gas and electric lines and fiber optic cable and the City’s Public Works department did the concrete work, according to the City.

Regarding savings, the City stated that a CNG-fueled garbage truck could save $20,000 in fuel each year over a 10-year lifespan despite the higher acquisition cost. In addition, the City’s Fire Chief Tony Kirk said he was spending an average of 23 cents per mile on gasoline and with a new CNG-fueled Chevrolet Tahoe in his department; the cost is 12 cents per mile.

“This will save the City of Athens money in fuel and maintenance costs because compressed natural gas is cheaper than gasoline and diesel, and it is a cleaner fuel which means less maintenance,” Carter said. “In addition, the Athens Gas Department, Mayor Ronnie Marks and the Athens City Council are leading the way in North Alabama with regards to green energy and independence from foreign oil for the city’s energy needs.”

The City’s natural gas-fueled fleet currently includes three garbage trucks (one is in use, two are on order); three bi-fuel Dodge 2500 pickup trucks; one natural gas-fueled Honda Civic; one bi-fuel Chevrolet Tahoe used by Athens Fire and Rescue; and four bi-fuel Chevrolet Tahoes for Athens Police.

“In the past, the city replaced worn out larger fleet vehicles when we could,” said Athens’ Mayor Ronnie Marks. “Our plan is to use money saved on fuel and maintenance to replace vehicles like garbage trucks before they get to the point that it is costing the city money to keep them patched up and on the road.”