The City of Covington’s Green Fuels Facility, a compressed natural gas station, held its grand opening Friday.
Mayor Ronnie Johnston, city council members and other officials who helped get the facility open cut the ribbon on the four-pump station, a little more than six years after the idea for the project began.
The $1.6-million facility opened earlier this year, and has been servicing many vehicles at prices just around the $2.00 per gallon mark, and marks the start of a green path for the city of Covington.
“It’s the perfect example of the city of Covington’s future and positioning of ways for this city to have great services, a great community and energy friendly fuel is a part of that process,” Johnston said.
During his speech prior to helping cut the ribbon on the station, Johnston said not one person led to the opening of the new station. He did, however, point out the perseverance of city councilman Chris Smith, saying he never stopped.
“Once council person, when he believes in something, he’s never going to let it go,” Johnston said in his remarks. “That is Mr. Smith.”
Smith said the project was one of the first ones he took on after being elected in January 2010, and stuck with it because his belief in the future it provides for the city.
“Just having alternative fuel for our community and not being solely dependent on foreign oil, and having other ways of fueling our fleet,” Smith said. “The main thing was the public-private partnership. That was the main thing for me because we could have revenue.”
The station will charge different prices for different customers, including the city of Covington itself, which has started purchasing CNG vehicles.
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. Grant writer Randy Conner previously told the News, 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.
Helping to open the Green Fuels Facility on City Pond Road, near the Alcovy Road intersection were Municipal Gas Authority of Georgia CEO Arthur Corbin, Georgia Public Service Commissioner Bubba McDonald, Covington city council members Hawnethia Williams, Ocie Franklin nd Chris Smith, American Fueling Systems President and CEO Rahim Charania and Clean Cities Georgia CEO Don Francis.