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Posted: December 17, 2013 10:00 p.m.

CNG fueling station to open next month

Covington’s compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling facility is expected to be open within the next 30 days, and the Covington City Council set the prices for the fuel at its Monday meeting.

The facility, located on City Pond Road just west of Alcovy Road, will be open to the public, and Covington utility customers, both residents and businesses, will receive a fuel discount.

Covington utility customers will pay $1.85 per gasoline gallon equivalent (GGE) of CNG, while large-volume customers (those who will buy CNG in bulk, including the city) will pay $1.95 per GGE; all other customers will pay $2.34 per GGE, which Conner said is in the same range as other stations in the region.

Utility customers and large-volume customers will receive an additional benefit, as they will be able to have fuel charged on their monthly utility bills, instead of having to pay when initially filling up. Conner said the city is going to give customers a key, similar to a grocery store discount card, they can use to have their accounts billed. Using this system, the city is able to eliminate processing fees normally charged when customers use credit cards.

The discount will be available to utility customers even if they don’t currently have natural gas service, Conner said. The $1.85 price is the break-even price, Conner said, adding that officials felt customers should get the discount because they already pay to support the city’s infrastructure through their monthly utility payments.

Conner said the city will have several companies that will quality for the large-volume customer rate, which will be a minimum of 15,000

GGEs per year. Companies can also qualify if they have a transportation plan that includes a fleet conversion schedule that will get them to a level of using at least 15,000 GGEs within the next two years.

Unlike gasoline prices, which fluctuate based on crude oil prices, Conner said, he doesn’t anticipate the city changing its CNG prices for the next 12 to 18 months. He said natural gas prices are much more stable because natural gas is a domestic fuel and isn’t shipped from overseas.

Conner said there’s been a jump in vehicle conversions from gasoline to CNG in the past six to eight months and that General Motors and the Ford Motor Co. are both expanding options.

The $1.6-million CNG facility will have four pumps and will be able to accommodate larger vehicles such as tractor-trailers and school buses, which are more popular choices for CNG conversions because they use so much fuel and see a quicker return on investment through fuel savings.

Covington purchased five CNG-powered Dodge Ram pickup trucks earlier this fall and voted Monday to purchase another CNG truck for the street department manager.

Conner previously said both the county and Newton County School System have expressed interest in purchasing CNG vehicles and using the city’s fueling station, as they use 1.4 million gallons of fuel annually.

The fueling facility, which will be called the Green Fueling Facility, will technically be charged by the city itself for the fuel the facility receives; the facility will be charged the small commercial gas rate.

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