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Posted: March 18, 2014 10:00 p.m.

CNG fueling station opens to public

The city of Covington’s compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling station is now open to the public, and the city is planning to have an open house and grand opening April 4 at 2 p.m. at the station, which is located off City Pond Road, near the Alcovy Road intersection.

Covington grant writer Randy Conner said Tuesday the $1.6-million facility recently opened to the public, and the city’s trucks have been using the facility for the past month.

CNG-powered passenger cars options remain limited in number, but the city has purchased several trucks and options are increasing as the technology gains steam thanks to being a cleaner-burning and less expensive fuel.

The Covington City Council previously set prices for the station. 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, 15,000 GGEs or more) will pay $1.95 per GGE. City trucks will pay the $1.95 price, Conner said.

All other customers will pay $2.34 per GGE, which Conner said previously is in the same range as other stations in the region. Conner said he doesn’t anticipate the city changing its CNG prices for the next 12 to 18 months, because CNG prices are more stable than gasoline prices.

Utility customers and large-volume customers will receive the additional benefit of having the fuel charged on their monthly utility bills if they choose, instead of having to pay when initially filling up.

Conner said Tuesday the city is offering keys, similar to grocery store discount cards, customers can use to have their accounts billed; he said the process is simple and takes five minutes to complete at City Hall. Using this system allows the city to eliminate processing fees normally charged when customers use credit cards, Conner said previously.

Rahim Charania, CEO of American Fueling Systems – the company that built the station – said previously the station’s four pumps can fill a tank at a speed of 9 gasoline gallon equivalents (GGEs) of CNG per minute.

The city owns seven CNG-powered vehicles and has another one on the way, Conner said, noting the city was working to put out bids for two more trucks, including a garbage truck. The city expects to have a total of 11 CNG-powered vehicles by the end of June and would have purchased 19 bi-fuel (CNG and gasoline) cars for the police department earlier this year, but the models the city wanted were discontinued from production.

CNG trucks cost a premium, but even at their retail price, the trucks normally recover the additional cost through fuel savings after 60,000 miles, Conner said previously, after which point pure fuel savings kick in. The city has managed to buy some discounted trucks and will be able to sell itself cheaper-than-retail fuel, allowing it save more money.

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.

For more information about the station, call the city of Covington at 770-385-2000 or visit City Hall.

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