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KUB celebrates official opening of compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling station
Celebration includes grant presentation from Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC)
Today, KUB celebrated the official opening of Knoxville’s first public compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling station and receipt of a grant from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) to help expand KUB’s fleet of alternative fuel vehicles.
CNG, an environmentally friendly gasoline and diesel alternative, powers the cleanest vehicles in commercial production today. The fuel is made by compressing natural gas to less than 1 percent of its volume at standard atmospheric pressure. Costing about half as much as gasoline or diesel fuel and releasing about 90 percent fewer emissions, CNG protects the environment and makes driving more affordable.
KUB’s commitment to stewardship and sustainability was the impetus behind the decision to invest $2.5 million to open the publicly accessible CNG fueling station. It replaces an outdated station that was available only for KUB’s fleet.
“We exist to serve our customers, and we do that by providing utility services, but we also recognize the importance of being good stewards of the environment,” KUB President and CEO Mintha Roach said. “Opening this station means that customers now have a cleaner and more affordable transportation fuel option. This is not only good for the environment, but it also makes good business sense because the average cost of CNG is lower than gasoline or diesel.”
Located at 1820 Third Creek Road in Knoxville, the station was designed and built by TruStar Energy CNG, which also manages operations. The station began fueling KUB’s CNG fleet in November 2016 and had a soft opening for public use in January 2017.
TDEC officials were on hand to present KUB a $67,500 grant, which will help fund conversion of three KUB trucks for dedicated CNG use. The new, lower-polluting CNG trucks will be used in the KUB service territory that encompasses Knox County and parts of seven surrounding counties. This supports KUB’s plan to double its CNG fleet to approximately 100 vehicles by 2020.
“This past summer, TDEC’s Office of Energy Programs launched a grant program to incentivize the purchase of natural gas or propane-powered medium- and heavy-duty vehicles,” TDEC Deputy Commissioner Shari Meghreblian said. “By incentivizing the use of these cleaner burning, alternative fuels, TDEC will further support the reduction of transportation-related emissions in our state.”
Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero praised the station as being good for the city and the state.
“This station bolsters our efforts to reduce our carbon footprint and make Knoxville greener,” Rogero said. “In addition to providing service to the City of Knoxville’s CNG vehicles, it fills a void in the state’s network of public CNG stations by adding service near the junction of interstates 40 and 75.”
Natural gas vehicles, fueled by CNG, are available for all vehicle classes – from light-duty compact cars to heavy-duty buses, refuse trucks and semis. CNG light-duty vehicles currently include the Chevrolet Impala and Silverado 2500, Dodge Ram 2500, Ford F-150 and F-250 pickups, Chevrolet Savana vans and Ford Transit and Transit Connect vans. It also is possible to convert a traditional vehicle to one that runs on CNG.
KUB hopes opening the fueling station to the public will help broaden the use of CNG in the Southeast and across the country. According to General Electric (GE), natural gas currently powers more than 12 million vehicles around the world, but only about 250,000 CNG vehicles currently operate in the United States.
KUB, a municipal utility serving Knox and parts of seven adjacent counties, provides electric, gas, water, and wastewater services to more than 453,000 customers.