Natural Gas, Natural Choice

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

Tallahassee, FL - This is the sound of filling up your tank with gas, but in a decade’s time it could sound like this.

Compressed natural gas is being pumped into this Leon County school bus. The district built a natural gas station this summer and bought 14 busses to burn the fuel. The move will save money and the environment.

“Every compressed natural gas bus that we have is expected to save 5-thousand dollar a year per bus,” said Chris Petley, spokesman with Leon County Schools.

Leon County is the first school district to make the switch. Now two entrepreneurs from California hope to take Florida the rest of the way. Tuesday, Nopetro, announced plans to open 12 natural gas stations in strategic locations throughout the state with the first half opening by 2014.

“We will not only service the medium and heavy duty trucks transporting our goods, but we will also provide a supply of natural gas to the local population,” said Jorge Herrera, Nopetro CEO.

Nopetro hopes government vehicles sign up first, but their also negotiating with Florida trucking companies. But with just a dozen stations in the works it may be a while before Florida trucking companies are willing to make the switch to natural gas.

Still environmentalists are praising the experiment. They say natural gas could be the transition fuel Florida needs to move from gas to electric.

“Until we can go to all electric cars, or all electric trucks for a true clean economy, natural gas is a good interim product,” said Eric Draper with Audubon of Florida.

And if natural gas works in busses and diesels, in a decade’s time it could be available to all Florida drivers. Another advantage of moving toward natural gas is the domestic supply. The US has more natural gas reserves than any other country.

Right now natural gas stations are planned for Tallahassee, Pensacola, Gainesville, Daytona, Orlando, Tampa, Fort Pierce, Fort Myers, Fort Lauderdale and Miami.

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