The 3 Week Diet System

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Pasco schools pondering natural-gas buses

May 07:

The Pasco School District is looking into using natural gas to fuel buses, possibly by the 2016-17 school year. One of the negatives is that the district would have to buy about 130 buses.
The Pasco School District is looking into using natural gas to fuel buses, possibly by the 2016-17 school year. One of the negatives is that the district would have to buy about 130 buses.

The district, which already has received an unsolicited proposal from Nopetro of Coral Gables to partner on a compressed natural gas fueling station, is advertising for similar proposals from other vendors, as state law requires.
The district also hasn't ruled out building and operating its own fueling station, and school officials were scheduled to met this week with representatives of the municipal-owned Clearwater Gas System as part of that analysis.
Compressed natural gas, known by the acronym CNG, is considered cleaner and less costly than diesel fuel. Natural gas-burning vehicles run quieter and produce less pollution and greenhouse gas emissions than their diesel counterparts.
Some public transit systems and solid-waste haulers have begun to convert their fleets to CNG, but the industry has been slower to produce new, traditional-sized school buses capable of transporting up to 65 children at a time.
That is changing, and last fall Nopetro pitched an idea to the Pasco School Board in which the private company would build and operate the alternative fuel station to provide natural gas to the district vehicles and also pay it royalties on sales to other customers.
The likely site would be the west-side bus garage on Pine Hill Road in Port Richey, and potential customers could include Pasco's waste haulers. Republic Services, for instance, has set a national goal of having 3,100 of its trucks running on natural gas or other alternative fuels by the end of 2015.
Pasco Commissioner Jack Mariano recently reminded other commissioners that haulers have been reluctant to convert to natural gas trucks locally because the county's current year-to-year waste contracts don't allow trash companies to spread their capital costs over a longer period of time. That should change, he said, and conversion to CNG trucks should be part of the larger conversation about recycling and solid waste management, he said.
"To get compressed natural gas, it's quieter; it's better. It's what we really need to throw out there,'' Mariano said.
The immediate drawback to the district is the expense of buying as many as 130 natural-gas buses, at an approximate cost of $18 million, though state rebates could drop that cost several hundred thousand dollars. The district operates 430 school buses currently. One consideration is a lease-purchase agreement with Nopetro, which would finance the initial acquisition costs of the buses and lease the vehicles to the district for 10 years with an option for eventual purchase.
Nopetro formed in 2007 already has partnerships around the state, including with St. Johns County, the LINX transit system in Orange County and the Charlotte and Leon county school districts.
The Leon County school contract was the first of its kind in 2012 and produced first-year sales 300 percent greater than its projections. The district said then that CNG reduced fuel costs by $1.50 per gallon, a 40 percent savings.
Likewise, a 2014 federal study of three CNG waste-hauling fleets found average fuel savings of about 50 percent, the ability to recoup up-front costs of trucks and fueling stations within three to eight years, and positive feedback from drivers, who lauded the quieter ride and better acceleration.
"We think over the long haul it's a money saver,'' said Ray Gadd, Pasco's deputy school superintendent. "CNG (pricing) is not as volatile as diesel fuel, and we have every reason to believe we've got loads of CNG in this country. It should save significantly over the long haul.''


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