PENSACOLA, FL – The City of Pensacola received a new natural gas-fueled Civic GX as part of a pilot program to determine whether natural gas vehicles will pay dividends in terms of future fuel savings. The City is currently pursuing partnerships with other private- and public-sector organizations, but this effort is in its early stages, according to Travis Peterson, spokesperson for the City’s Mayor Ashton Hayward.

“There has been some definite interest from other private and public sector groups in converting to CNG fleets,” Peterson said. “The challenge up until now has been the availability of fueling stations for commercial applications. Since the City of Pensacola will build three fueling stations over the next 2 years, that supply question is being answered. However, public and private sector fleets still have to address their individual cost issues for upgrading/replacing their current traditional vehicles to NGVs. We anticipate that as the fueling stations come online and the results of our internal pilot program are made public, the private and public sectors will see the clear advantages of NGVs from a cost standpoint and will come on board.”

Peterson said the Civic GX is the City’s first natural-gas vehicle purchase, and its only planned natural gas vehicle purchase for this fiscal year, though the City plans to purchase more vehicles that run on this fuel source as it replaces vehicles.

“As we cycle through our existing fleet vehicles we anticipate upgrading our new purchases to CNG-based vehicles,” Peterson said. “We do not plan on converting existing vehicles, but rather transitioning our fleet through attrition of older vehicles being upgraded for newer CNG vehicles.”

When it comes to fueling infrastructure, the City only has a single natural gas fueling station currently, though as stated, more are being built.

“Currently we have one slow-fill fueling station, that can handle filling two vehicles, with typical refueling taking 6-8 hours,” Peterson said. “This is suitable for our needs currently, with the Honda Civic GX.  However, as mentioned above, we are currently in the process of negotiating the construction of 3 new commercial-grade fuel stations that will serve the needs of larger fleets and larger commercial vehicles.”

Other Cities using natural gas vehicles include Corpus Christi, Texas, and Columbus, Ohio.

By Greg Basich