Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

City opens compressed natural gas station to test usage in city vehicles

December 3, 2013


Lawrence city officials are taking another step in evaluating whether large fleets of city vehicles — like trash trucks and transit buses — ought to be fueled by compressed natural gas.

City leaders on Tuesday opened a new $100,000 compressed natural gas fueling station at the city's maintenance facility at 12th Street and Haskell Avenue. The station will be used by four compressed natural gas vehicles the city is using as part of a pilot project.

"We're looking to see how this fuel source can have an impact on our bottom line," Mayor Mike Dever said.

A grant from the Kansas City Regional Clean Cities program paid for about half of the fueling station. The grant also paid for the $50,000 in costs to upgrade a city trash truck to run on compressed natural gas.

The city began running its first compressed natural gas vehicle, a standard pickup truck, about two years ago. Steve Stewart, the city's fleet manager, said the CNG pickup truck thus far has been performing well.

"So far, it has been excellent," Stewart said. "So far, it hasn't given us any problems."

Stewart said fuel mileage has been comparable to traditional gasoline-powered equipment. Fuel prices have been very favorable. A gallon equivalent of compressed natural gas was selling for $1.49 on Tuesday, compared with $3.87 for diesel fuel.

Dever said he hopes the city will gather about 18 months worth of maintenance and fuel data on the compressed natural gas vehicles in the city's fleet and then determine whether it makes sense to add CNG vehicles on a larger scale.

In addition to the trash truck and the pickup truck, the city soon will add two flatbed water-hauling trucks that will run on compressed natural gas.

Officials with Black Hills Energy, the city's largest natural gas company, said a decision by the city or another large fleet operator to convert to compressed natural gas would make it more likely that a private company could open a quick-fueling CNG station that is open to the public.

"I think Lawrence would be a perfect place for a station," said Lon Meyer, the interim general manager for Black Hills Energy. "It is a vibrant, youthful, progressive town where a lot of people would see the benefits."


Richard Heckler 4 years, 6 months ago

Cleaner Biofuels: Displacing Conventional Gasoline

Cellulosic biofuels carry enormous potential for reducing U.S. oil use, benefiting our health, economy, and environment.

We can use less oil by filling up our cars with fuels other than gasoline, including electricity, biofuels, and natural gas. But not all of these substitutes are equally promising. The gas at your local station already contains 10 percent corn ethanol on average — but neither oil nor corn ethanol is the fuel of the future.

Cleaner cellulosic biofuels, like clean electricity used to power advanced vehicles, offer enormous potential to sustainably reduce U.S. oil consumption, curb global warming emissions, and help put America on a path to cut projected oil use in half in 20 years.

But to get there we need smart government policy, funding, and support to develop the required technology. The Billion Gallon Challenge is a UCS effort to build the support and policies needed to bring promising cellulosic biofuels to market.

What about natural gas?

Natural gas can play a role in reducing global warming pollution, but using it for transportation fuel does not represent one of the best climate solutions. For example, a natural gas-powered Honda Civic delivers about a 15 percent reduction in global warming pollution compared with a conventional gasoline-powered Civic, but a gasoline-electric Civic hybrid costs less and delivers a 30 percent reduction in emissions.

A better use for natural gas in the transportation sector would be as a resource to generate electricity for plug-in vehicles or hydrogen for fuel cell vehicles, which can provide global warming emissions savings on the order of 40 percent. Union of Concerned Scientists

Ted Morehouse 4 years, 6 months ago

You assume that the warming climate is bad, that doesn't make much sense. What doesn't make any sense is that we could curb this warming in a significant way by switching energy sources. Natural gas is a great fuel, its plentiful and cheap. All consumers are waiting for is for industry to build a transportation infrastructure around it.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 6 months ago

Moving to natural gas for vehicles could very likely increase the cost of natural gas across the board. The cost of corn has jumped as a result of using corn as a fuel.

Bob Smith 4 years, 6 months ago

Ban 2-cycle lawnmowers! That's where the real pollution is coming from!

Richard Heckler 4 years, 6 months ago

A pair of climate scientists are calling for what some may view as a shocking solution to the global warming crisis: a rethinking of the economic order in the United States and other industrialized nations.

Kevin Anderson and Alice Bows-Larkin of the influential Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research in England say many of the solutions proposed by world leaders to prevent "runaway global warming" will not be enough to address the scale of the crisis.

They have called for "radical and immediate de-growth strategies in the United States, EU and other wealthy nations." Anderson says that to avoid an increase in temperature of two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), the world would require a "revolutionary change to the political and economic hegemony."

Richard Heckler 4 years, 6 months ago

Global warming is happening now. The planet's temperature is rising. The trend is clear and unmistakable.

Every one of the past 35 years has been warmer than the 20th century average. The 12 warmest years on record have all occurred since 1998. 2012 was the hottest year ever recorded for the contiguous United States.

Globally, the average surface temperature has increased more than one degree Fahrenheit since the late 1800s. Most of that increase has occurred over just the past three decades.

We are the cause. We are overloading our atmosphere with carbon dioxide, which traps heat and steadily drives up the planet’s temperature. Where does all this carbon come from? The fossil fuels we burn for energy — coal, natural gas, and oil — plus the loss of forests due to deforestation, especially in the tropics.

The scientific evidence is clear. Within the scientific community, there is no debate: An overwhelming majority of climate scientists agree that global warming is happening and that human activity is the primary cause.

This broad consensus — and the extensive scientific evidence that supports it — is often downplayed or distorted by a small but vocal minority of special interests that have a vested interest in delaying action on climate change.

We have a choice ... Union of Concerned Scientists

Bob Smith 4 years, 6 months ago

"... The planet's temperature is rising..." Except for the last decade or so.

Richard Heckler 4 years, 6 months ago

The national security establishment in the United States, including the U.S. military and the U.S. intelligence community, understand that climate change is a national security threat, and that we cannot wait for 100% certainty before acting to mitigate and adapt to its effects.

But not only do they understand it, they plan for it – considering it’s implications in strategic documents like the Quadrennial Defense Review, and setting up an office within the CIA called the Center for Climate Change and National Security.

But why? Why do those organs of government that the public normally associates with fighting wars, devote time and effort to an issue that is branded as hogwash by many on the right of the political spectrum, and the exclusive domain of environmental activists on the left?

The simple answer: climate change is, actually, a national security threat. It’s not just a politically expedient narrative politicians use to convince those that couldn’t care less about polar bears, rainforests, or “bugs and bunnies.” It’s actually a problem worthy of attention by those whose primary job it is to protect the United States from harm. The following is a brief outline of how and why the U.S. national security community treats climate change the way it does, starting with:

Joshua Montgomery 4 years, 6 months ago

$1.49/Gallon? Do they make bucket trucks? I'll take two.

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