City mulls natural gas for vehicles
Covington explores alternative fuel source

COVINGTON - The city of Covington is looking into using natural gas to power its vehicle fleet as a cost and energy saving measure.

The city approached the Municipal Gas Authority of Georgia (MGAG) a while back to get more information on converting its current fleet to accept natural gas and potentially constructing natural gas filling stations.

With more than 30 cities now interested in the same concept, MGAG is hosting an informational meeting from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday at DeKalb Technical College at 8100 Bob Williams Parkway.

"We're looking for a way to diversify our fleet, so we're not solely dependent on one type of fuel," said Covington City Manager Steve Horton.

Horton said the city is exploring a variety of energy alternatives, including petroleum, electric and ethanol.

"We think that's where the future is, to have more diversified fuel and energy sources," he said.

The cost of converting part or all of the city's fleet to natural gas and constructing one or more stations will be addressed at the meeting.

"We've been told there may be grant opportunities or other funding sources," Horton said.

While it may initially be costly to implement, "the laws of economics are there are competitors that will rush to the market and stabilize costs," he said.

The city hopes to partner with Newton County, the Board of Education and the Newton County Water and Sewerage Authority on the initiative and has invited representatives to Tuesday's meeting.

The public is also welcome to attend, though MGAG spokeswoman Nicole Graham said the meeting will focus only on government fleets and will not address individual interests.

However, Horton said that if the system is implemented and proves to be successful, stations could be opened for public use.

Leading the workshop will be Phoenix Energy Corporation out of Birmingham, Ala.

MGAG's role is to assist cities with bringing a natural gas system to fruition, Graham said.

"We've had a lot of interest in this. It really comes from our membership. We're trying to investigate this. They brought it to us," she said.

Crystal Tatum can be reached at crystal.tatum@newtoncitizen.com.