TULSA, OK – The City of Tulsa opened its third compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling station on Sept. 7. The new station is only open to the public, and CNG vehicles operated by the City will continue to be fueled at the two existing fueling stations. The third station is the last of a three-phase CNG fueling facility plan that began in 2006.
“We want to position ourselves in the market to help citizens,” said Brent Jones, equipment management director for the City of Tulsa. He referenced the growing use of CNG in the area. Additionally, he stated that refuse collection would soon be entirely outsourced, and the company with the contract would be required to transition to CNG vehicles. The City’s station is the sixth public station in Tulsa.
According to Jones, construction of the three facilities cost $1.068 million. The City received $300,000 in federal grants and $177,000 in funding from the Tulsa Authority for the Recovery of Energy (TARE); the remaining construction cost was funded by the City.
All three stations are located within 125 yards of each other, at the City’s West heavy maintenance yard near downtown Tulsa. They are connected to two compressor stations, which means that if one is turned off for maintenance, fuel can still be supplied.
The new station, which uses the FuelMaster card system, consists of a fast-fill dispenser with four hoses, one of which is a high flow for heavy equipment. The rest are standard 3,600 PSI hoses. The two stations reserved for City vehicles, one of which is a fast-fill and the other a slow-fill, are currently used to fuel the City’s 21 CNG vehicles. These vehicles include 15 Honda Civic GX sedans, five refuse trucks, and one bi-fuel CNG Chevrolet Impala.
In addition to the 21 CNG vehicles already in the fleet, the City is looking to convert 10 Ford Ranger pickup trucks to be used by water meter inspectors. It is also in the process of purchasing an additional 10 full-size pickup trucks, most likely bi-fuel vehicles, and six dedicated CNG refuse trucks. While the City is outsourcing its remaining refuse collection services, it is bringing back the recycling program in house, and it will continue to collect “green waste.” Jones said he expects by early 2013, there will be a total of 47 CNG vehicles on the road.
Jones said the cost of CNG for the City is currently less than one-third the cost of gasoline and diesel. With vehicles that consume approximately 2.2 million gallons of gasoline and diesel annually, the City will save a significant amount in fuel costs. Vehicles currently consume about 4,000-5,000 gallons of CNG per month.
This completes Tulsa’s current plans for CNG facility construction, but this isn’t the first time the City invested in CNG.
“The first time we encountered CNG was in 1992,” Jones recalled. The City built a CNG fueling station at that time, but CNG-fueled equipment back then was unreliable, and with the decrease in gas prices, “CNG lost traction,” Jones said. However, since injection technology for vehicles has improved, and the cost difference between CNG and petroleum fuel has increased significantly, the City began investing in CNG again in 2006. It dismantled the old fueling station, but reused the compressor station and other components, Jones said.
Brian Franklin, administration manager for the Equipment Management Department, worked with Jones and Tulsa Clean Cities to apply for grant funding for the CNG projects. The City of Tulsa’s fleet was named among the 100 Best Fleets in 2012.
By Thi Dao