COVINGTON -- City of Covington officials are exploring an investment in a compressed natural gas station.
The City Council agreed to hold a work session on the issue after hearing Monday night from a representative with Wise Gas, a company based in Florida that provides consultation, fueling equipment and vehicle conversions to natural gas.
Jeff Greene with Wise Gas said Covington is the ideal spot to open a compressed natural gas station, with its location along the I-20 corridor between Atlanta and the coast. Around 65,000 vehicles pass by Covington exits per day, including 18-wheelers with large fuel tanks that could utilize the station, he said.
"I think there is very substantial potential for additional revenue coming into the city down the road," Greene said.
If the station is used at full capacity of 2,000 to 3,000 gallons per day, the city could get $200,000 a month in revenue, Greene estimated.
Greene said the city would need to invest about $1.9 million in equipment and site improvements to get the station up and running, with maintenance running about $80,000 a year.
Natural gas has been running about $1 less per gallon at the pump. Sedan owners can save about $10 per fill-up, Greene said, adding that he runs through about 40 gallons of gas per week and saves about $60 per week.
Among the benefits of compressed natural gas are that it burns cleaner and quieter, with less air and noise pollution, and,"On average, natural gas costs 30 percent less than conventional gasoline at the pump," Greene said.
After examining both the county and city fleet, Greene determined that the county has 86 vehicles and the city has 37 vehicles, for a total of 123 vehicles, that could be converted to run on natural gas. The county currently pays $338,000 in fuel costs, and the city spends $117,000 on those vehicles. Converting to compressed natural gas would reduce those totals to $236,00 for the county and $82,000 for the city, a yearly combined savings of $137,000, Greene said.
Greene encouraged the city to spend $100,000 on an engineering study and commit to dual fuel vehicles.
He said Wise Gas would also like to assess a secondary site that it would own as a company.
"It's our desire to have a Georgia location and we feel like Covington would be the right location for it," he said.
The Department of Energy has committed $300 million to building compressed natural gas stations throughout the country, Green said, but right now most are being built on the West Coast. Greene estimated that approximately 13,000 of the 65,000 cars passing by Covington on I-20 could be converted to run on compressed natural gas, but noted that conversions aren't happening because there are limited stations. There is at least a 118-year supply of domestic reserve supply of natural gas, Greene said.