POSTED: Thursday, March 29, 2012 - 12:01am
UPDATED: Sunday, April 1, 2012 - 11:08am
TYLER — Russ Jackson is the fleet manager for the City of Tyler.
On Wednesday, the city held a ribbon cutting for their brand new "Compressed Natural Gas" -- or "CNG" fueling station.
"We've got 2 heavy duty trucks that are in our fleet. When it's all said and done, we'll have 15 light duty trucks, we'll have a fork lift on our premises here," Jackson said.
Jackson says it's part of a pilot program they hope will make a big difference. Especially in how much they're spending on fuel.
"Well it's $1.49 a gallon and this truck holds 21 gallons and so then you're looking at -- we've also got about 28 gallons of unleaded so it's a bifuel truck," Jackson said.
He tells KETK the only real downside to 'going natural' at the moment is the infrastructure needs some catching up to do.
He says more trained CNG mechanics are needed, much like with any vehicle. And that's an opportunity to bring more jobs to the area.
Jackson tells KETK the cost to outfit a vehicle to accept natural gas is about $9,800. But he says the cost is lowering all the time. It may be down to 5 or $6,000 in the next year or so.
"I've been asked political reasons -- this whole project hasn't been political at all. To me, the only thing is buying American and that's just...what we need to do," Jackson said.
The City of Tyler is hoping the natural gas project will really take off. A local company -- First Alternative Fuel has already set aside a spot right next to downtown where in the future East Texans can fill up their own vehicles with natural gas. And they say it will be a good backup for the new city fueling station.
"It will be a state of the art system. It will be able to fuel vehicles in the same time frame as a regular vehicle burning unleaded gas. 5 to 6 minutes to fill up a vehicle...a fully charged vehicle," said Jamal Moharer with First Alt Fuel.
In addition to the new fueling station they're building near downtown, Moharer says they hope to build others all across the East Texas area.
He says the station will also provide Liquified Petroleum Gas. That will be available to the public starting in mid-July.
The compressed natural gas will be available in September.