The city of Oklahoma City opened its first public fueling station for compressed natural gas as it continues to remake its fleet.
Two CNG pumps — one for buses and another for cars and trucks — are open to the public at the city’s solid waste management facility at 11501 N Portland. The grand opening was Wednesday afternoon.
The $2.8 million facility also boasts 58 more CNG hoses behind the fence, allowing the solid waste department to fuel its growing fleet of trash trucks without having to wait in line at a public fueling station.
Superintendent Jim Linn said the department has 23 CNG trash trucks, with about a dozen more on order.
He said all of the city’s heavy-duty trucks will be fueled by natural gas instead of diesel by 2017.
Councilman Patrick Ryan said Wednesday the fueling station is an “important asset” for Oklahoma City as a leader in using CNG as an alternative fuel.
Linn said the switch will drastically reduce the department’s fuel costs.
“It’s crazy,” he said. “You’re talking about a 50 percent reduction in your fuel costs.”
Officials said the city currently pays $3.33 a gallon for diesel, while it is selling CNG for $1.519 a gallon.
Natural gas also is a cleaner fuel, releasing fewer emissions into the air when it is burned for fuel, said Yvonne Anderson, director of the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments’ alternative fuel programs.
Anderson said the city’s new fueling station could spur other fleet operators to switch to CNG since it includes a fast-fill nozzle for heavy duty trucks.
“Fleets that are contemplating switching to CNG and that make deliveries around the city or region, such as beverage trucks, now have another easily accessible station for refueling. Same with other private industry refuse and recycling trucks that serve nearby areas, and even large trucks making deliveries to grocers,” she said. “The station is reasonably accessible from the Kilpatrick Turnpike and Hefner Parkway, so that opens up another opportunity for these delivery and over-the-road fleets to refuel.
“I think knowing that the station is available may make routing and refueling with CNG even more attractive to fleets that may be sitting on the fence.”
Oklahoma City’s fleet has more than 100 CNG vehicles, with two other private fueling stations to serve them.
The city’s utilities department has been using CNG since the early 1990s, assistant director Brett Weingart said, but better technology makes natural gas vehicles a much better investment now.
He said CNG is an attractive option for refuse trucks because they only get about 2 miles a gallon while picking up more than 1,000 trash cans over a typical 10-hour day.
CNG adds about $45,000 to the cost of a side-load trash truck, but Weingart said that can be paid off in less than three years because of cheaper fuel. The additional savings that come during the life of the truck will be used to pay for the fueling station.
The city’s newest fueling station was built through a unique public-private partnership with Gayle Armstrong Construction and Tim Johnson and Associates that took advantage of available tax credits for CNG infrastructure.