Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn rolled out the first of the city’s new compressed natural gas (CNG) solid waste vehicles Feb. 12 at Tampa International Airport’s CNG station.
“Replacing our older, diesel-powered garbage trucks with CNG trucks is good business. They will save taxpayer’s money, and are environmentally-friendly and more efficient,” said Mayor Bob Buckhorn. “This is just the beginning for our fleet of CNG vehicles.”
The City of Tampa recently purchased five new CNG-powered garbage trucks and will add five more to replace aging diesel trucks to its fleet by 2014.
The environmentally-friendly vehicles emit about 40 percent less greenhouse gases, offer extended engine life, and cost less to maintain. The new CNG vehicles will save $1.85 - $2.00 per gallon in fuel costs, or approximately $152,000 annually.
The trucks will fuel up at the CNG station at Tampa International Airport, which is operated by Clean Energy, the largest provider of natural gas fuel for transportation in North America.
CNG systems are also safer, extend engine life and cost less to maintain. Natural gas is an abundant natural resource in the United States. According to fueleconomy.gov, 87 percent of natural gas consumed in the U.S. is produced domestically.
“This type of partnership with the City of Tampa is exactly what we had envisioned when we opened the station at the airport,” said airport CEO Joe Lopano. “Not only does it allow the airport to protect the environment and save money, but it also allows others in the community to do the same.”
The airport CNG station began operating March 9, 2012 and is open to the public.
Tampa International Airport is the main customer at the station, using 49,900 gallons from March to December 2012 to provide fuel for the airport’s 16 economy parking shuttles and eight other vehicles. Non-airport CNG customers, largely buses and trucks, used 7,500 gallons in the same time period.
Driver Joey Hughes of Lakeland-based Premier Transportation makes deliveries with his large truck throughout Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties. He said that he schedules his deliveries so that he completes his route near the airport station.
“I’m glad this station is here. I’ve been driving this for about four months,” said Hughes. “I like the CNG. It’s as easy to fill up as a regular gas and it’s much cleaner than the diesel. “
Airport officials estimate using CNG vehicles will save the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority $1 million on fuel over the next five years.
The airport plans to turn 72 percent of its fleet to alternative fuel vehicles in 10 years. Once that target is met, the fleet’s carbon dioxide emissions will go down by 395 metric tons annually, which is the equivalent of taking 72 passenger cars off the road.
“We’re very pleased with the airport station. It’s doing great,” said Mason Ecker, business development manager at Clean Energy. “Using compressed natural gas is always a win-win. Not only are you reducing the number of greenhouse emissions but also saving a lot of money in the long run.”