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Natural gas still a good option

Natural gas still a good option

In the past few months the cost of gasoline at the pump has tumbled to lows not seen in years and placed an interesting contrast for one of Pueblo’s newest projects.

As of Wednesday, the cost of a gallon of traditional, petroleum gasoline was $1.78, about 22 cents cheaper than what’s advertised for compressed natural gas.

But the slide in gas prices hasn’t changed the county’s position on compressed natural gas, nor its plans to convert a number of fleet vehicles to the new fuel.

Paris Carmichael, county public information officer, noted that the county’s single compressed natural gas vehicle is outperforming other vehicles with similar mileage so far this year.

According to figures provided, the 2014 Honda Civic gets about 46 miles to the gallon and through Dec. 2, the county spent about $124 on fuel maintenance costs.

That’s hundreds of dollars cheaper than other vehicles with similar mileage.

The Civic also has been in the county rotation for less time. The fleet department was given the OK to purchase the new vehicle shortly before the ribbon was cut on the new station.

But the county feels that the past four months are a predictor of the future.

“The county feels this is a good indicator of the fuel-cost savings to come, as we convert the county’s fleet to CNG vehicles,”CNG Carmichael said recently.

The county is converting or purchasing 10 additional compressed natural gas vehicles in the coming year, all of which are funded by a grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs.

The project was a part of a cooperative effort to bring a compressed natural gas station into Pueblo and while the CNG costs are currently higher than traditional petroleum, the county said the volatility of petroleum gas still makes natural gas a good alternative fuel option.

The county has two Chevy Volt electric hybrids that have better mileage numbers, in the 50s and 60s, but also have much higher maintenance costs. A Honda Civic Hybrid clocks in at 36 miles per gallon. Most of the traditional vehicles have mileage ratings in the teens and 20s.

Fleet services all vehicles in the county, including sheriff’s cars and utility trucks for the Road and Bridge Department. But it also maintains a group of vehicles that county staff can check out and use for work-related purposes.

According to logs maintained by the fleet department, those vehicles typically get checked out for trips out of town, often to Denver and Colorado Springs.

In related news, LNG shortage elicits emergency response in China.

This article was written by Jeff Tucker from The Pueblo Chieftain, Colo. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.