The fueling station, which will also dispense gasoline and diesel for government users, should be open for business by Feb. 1, following a sixth-month build out. The city has already begun converting some of its vehicles to run on natural gas.
"CNG burns cleaner," said Wendell Jones, the city's director of fleet services. "It's cheaper. It is less maintenance for our vehicles. One of the things that we as a city should be trying to do is reduce our dependency on foreign fuel. This is a prime example of a way to do that."
The fueling station cost about $1.3 million and was funded with various grants and a partnership with Southwestern Energy, which kicked in $100,000. The Arkansas Energy Department provided a $235,000 grant. The remaining funds came from the city, which located the station on publicly owned land, Jones said.
The fueling station fits nicely into the city's sustainability goal of converting up to 20% of its fleet to vehicles that can run on CNG. The city now runs seven CNG vehicles among its fleet of 800 vehicles.
The cost savings of the station to the city will be significant on a per-gallon basis. The station will dispense CNG for $1.10 per gallon, as compared to the $3.30-per-gallon cost of standard gasoline in the Arkansas capital.
In addition to city and other government vehicles, the station will likely fuel 40 CNG vehicles from the local AT&T commercial fleet, Jones said. The station will be located near Interstate 30, making it accessible to a broader base of possible users.
When it opens, the station is expected to dispense 200-300 gallons of CNG each day. It can also accommodate heavy-duty trucks equipped to run on CNG.
By Paul Clinton