Jeremy Kitchens of Covington’s Electric Department fills up one of the city-owned compressed natural gas vehicles at the new CNG Fueling Facility. The city spent $1.6 million to build the first municipal-owned CNG fueling station. It’s located off Interstate 20, Exit 92 at the corner of Alcovy Road and City Pond Road. (Staff photo: Jessicah Peters)
COVINGTON — The first city-owned compressed natural gas fueling facility in Georgia will soon open its pumps to the citizens and visitors of Covington.
Finance Director Randy Conner said the grand opening is set for either March 17 or 18, but the facility could open this week for use by the general public.
Rahim Charania, chief executive officer of American Fueling Systems, visited the facility on Monday to have a final walk-through with city staff.
“I want to congratulate the city for being the first municipality to build a natural gas facility in the state. You’ve joined a very elite group,” Charania said. “This facility is the first that will allow for public use on Interstate 20. It’s a great investment and the city will stand as a model for others.”
Charania said the city also completed construction of the facility under budget.
The project budget was $1.61 million with the final cost being $1,608,500, which included upgrading the compression system to almost double the original capacity, according to Conner.
By upgrading the compression system, about 9 gallons per minute can be pumped per vehicle instead of the original 4 gallons per minute the city expected.
Conner said he expects to see a large volume of truck traffic almost immediately due to the location of the facility, which is at the corner of City Pond and Alcovy roads, with the main entrance being on City Pond Road.
“Because we have located the facility convenient to the interstate, we will see an ever-growing population of truck traffic, using CNG, choosing to stop at our facility,” Conner said. “Firms are looking for ways to decrease shipping costs for their products. As engine technology continues to advance at a rapid pace, making CNG even more attractive, and as confidence in the natural gas industry continues to grow, natural gas will become the choice for fueling industrial transportation. We hope this facility will serve to make Covington an even more attractive place for those industries to locate.”
But the fuel facility won’t just be used by large trucks from out of town. The station will cut fuel costs for the city and, eventually, the county and Newton County School System. Between the three entities, over 1.4 million gallons of fuel annually is purchased.
Conner said being able to save between a $1.25 and $2.25 per gallon on just a fraction of the fuel used would be a huge savings.
Councilman Chris Smith, who has been an advocate for the facility since the city began mulling over the idea two years ago, said he thinks the facility will produce an excellent return on the city’s investment in the future.
“I believe that being proactive, it will put our city in a great position for the future. Alternative fuels are the up and coming thing, so I am so proud of this council putting forth the effort to look ahead and not sit still,” Smith said. “As the city manager has publicly stated, we do need to explore other options for fuel, so I support electric cars, CNG cars along with our traditional cars and trucks.”