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Public-Private Partnership board approves CNG project

HARRISBURG — The state is seeking a private partner to develop natural gas fueling stations at public-transit agencies that would also provide public access to these facilities, PennDOT announced Monday.

The state Public-Private Partnership (P3) Board approved the project to develop the clean-burning compressed natural gas stations around the state.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for PennDOT and its transit-agency partners to team with the private sector to take advantage of the state’s natural gas resources, save money and improve our environment,” PennDOT Secretary and P3 Board Chairman Barry J. Schoch said in a news release. “This is another example of the options we now have to expand or improve services because Governor Corbett signed the P3 law.”

Through the project, the private partner will design, build, finance, operate and maintain CNG filling stations at up to 37 transit facilities. Each fueling site must provide access to CNG for public transit and other CNG vehicles alike.

In addition, PennDOT will enter a CNG supply contract with the selected partner as well as purchase agreements with each of the transit agencies. PennDOT would receive a portion of the fuel sales revenue, with the money being returned to transit agencies to assist with future capital projects.

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To kick off the project, PennDOT will release a request for qualifications to solicit interested parties and expects to invite qualified teams to submit proposals early next year. A project team could be selected in summer 2015.

In September 2012, Corbett signed into law the Public and Private Partnerships for Transportation Act, which authorized P3 projects in Pennsylvania. This law allows PennDOT and other transportation authorities and commissions to partner with private companies in delivering, maintaining and financing transportation-related projects.

In 2013, Pennsylvania became the second-largest natural gas-producing state in the nation. The abundance of low-cost natural gas has driven electric and natural gas prices down nearly 40 percent since 2008, saving the average Pennsylvania resident nearly $1,200 annually.

After importing 75 percent of its natural gas just five years ago, Pennsylvania has become a net exporter of gas for the first time in more than 100 years.