Covington CNG station to open next year

COVINGTON - A compressed natural gas fueling station could be open in Covington in less than a year.

The City Council approved a bid of of more than $1.6 million from American Fueling Systems for construction of the facility at its July 15 meeting.

The station will be located at the corner of City Pond Road and Alcovy Road, with the main entrance being on City Pond Road.

Grant writer Randy Conner said he believes the facility could be open by April 2014.

The city has qualified for a low-interest loan from the Municipal Gas Authority of Georgia to fund construction, with an interest rate of between 1 and 1.5 percent over five years. MGAG will receive a 5 cent per gallon royalty from sales over the next five years.

The station will have four pumps and will be used to fuel some of the city’s fleet, including some police cars and garbage and service trucks. It will be available for general public use as well. It will take between eight and 10 years to recover the cost of building the facility, Conner said.

Conner previously told the council there would be an additional cost of $150,000 to cover improvements to the city’s present maintenance facility, which would be required to open the CNG facility.

CNG vehicles are much safer to own, operate and maintain than gasoline and diesel vehicles, Conner previously said. The facility will not need to be manned 24-7 but will be manned by gas department staff. The maintenance of the facility itself, was at one time estimated by a consultant at $18,000 per year. The city may need to add additional staff, but that staff member would have additional duties as well as the maintenance of the CNG equipment, he said.

There would also be an additional cost, at between at between $120,000 and $250,000, to convert city vehicles to CNG but Conner said it might be cheaper to replace vehicles versus converting.

Officials have said benefits of having a CNG station include reduction in the city’s fleet expense; reduction in fuel cost and maintenance; and increase in utility profitability.