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Compressed natural gas comes to Southern Crescent

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

In a month, the City of College Park will make compressed natural gas (CNG) -- a cleaner, cheaper fuel alternative -- available to residents in the Southern Crescent area.

On Wednesday, Nov. 12, Clean Energy Fuels and College Park will unveil a CNG fueling station at 4555 Edison Drive, just one mile south of the Georgia International Convention Center (GICC). The facility will reportedly be the first, and only, public access CNG fueling station in the state of Georgia.

Gerald Walker, public information officer for College Park, said the facility is a major step toward metro Atlanta's transition to cleaner, more-domestic fuel sources. He believes the facility will have a positive impact on reducing some of the air pollution produced by airport-related industries.

"Because of what we have at the airport, its important for us to clean up this air," said Walker. "I believe [the new facility] demonstrates our forward-thinking capabilities. In a literal sense, it is an alternative energy source that will provide a lot of more cleaner-burning fuel."

The facility, similar to a regular gas station, will have the ability to dispense 900 gallons of CNG per hour, 24 hours a day. Rather than depending on trucks to deliver the gas, the CNG will be piped to the station from Atlanta Gas Light, much like natural gas is piped into a home. The CNG will be compressed on site and then sold to the public.

Scott Upchurch, an energy service advisor with College Park Power, said the facility will target businesses around the airport which utilize fleet transportation, such as transit buses, taxis and limousines. While a standard CNG tank holds fewer gallons than the average gas tank, Upchurch said drivers making short-distance trips will see a major difference in their bill using CNG.

"Right now, [the price of CNG] is in the $2.60-$2.70 range," said Upchurch. "It's just an estimate, but it's still much cheaper than what gasoline is going for these days."

Upchurch said one of the downfalls of CNG is there are not enough fueling stations in the state to accommodate long-distance travel. He added, however, that vehicle mileage rates for CNG are comparable to gasoline. He said many industries around the airport have been saving money by converting to it.

"Airport shuttles are only being used to pick people up and take them around the airport, so we are targeting them," said Upchurch. "A lot of the shuttles are paying pump price for gasoline, so they are going to see tremendous savings."