|CNG Fueling Facility||555 N. Prospect St., Porterville 93257|
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Special fuel pumps now open at Porterville city site
Cost: $3.2 million, mostly funded by grants.
The city’s reliance on diesel to fuel its public fleet is going by the wayside as four buses that run on an alternative fuel finally have a place in town to recharge.
Equipped with 19 fill stations, the new $3.2 million facility will serve vehicles that operate on compressed natural gas. The site is advancing the city’s four-year toil to meet state air quality rules.
“It’s a great facility,” Trisha Whitfield, assistant public works director for Dinuba, said.
Along with about 25 others, Whitfield toured the Porterville CNG Fueling Facility in the Corporation Yard, 555 N. Prospect St., during a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday morning.
The fill stations were fully funded with a $1.6 million Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Grant. California bond money and federal cash totaling $1.6 million, with $550,000 in local transportation funds, helped pay for parking canopies, the re-surfacing of the Corporation Yard parking lot and a bus wash facility.
In addition, $1.8 million in grants have funded five more CNG buses headed to Porterville in the next year.
In late 2006, the city opted to begin using buses that run on CNG to meet the California Diesel Risk Reduction Plan.
“Of all airborne carcinogens, diesel particulate matter makes up a little more than 70 percent,” spokesman for the California Air Resources Board Dimitri Stanich said.
To minimize the toxic diesel particles that cause cancer and irritate lung tissues, the city chose CNG because it burns cleanly and it is cheap.
Unlike CNG, “if you put a match to diesel fuel, you get a lot of black soot that goes into the air,” Stanich said.
Porterville’s specially designed CNG Fueling Facility equipment is manufactured based on performance, so it took a while from design to installation, Porterville Public Works Director Baldomero Rodriguez said.
When the first four buses arrived, they fueled up at a temporary station that broke often.
So, for the past four to six weeks, bus drivers drove back and forth between the city of Tulare, wasting much of the tanks they had just filled.
“It didn’t make much sense,” Rodriguez said.
Now they have a home with 17 fill stations that fuel city transit buses and public works vehicles at night.
The city will not be the only entity with access to the pumps. There are also two fast fill stations for the public with credit card readers. The price per gallon is less than $2.
Few privately owned vehicles operate on CNG. The city is working on contracts with Tulare County and the city of Lindsay to share the facility, Rodriguez said.
Whitfield said she and the Dinuba transit team are looking to expand their own five-year-old operation and were interested in checking out the new technology in Porterville.
“A lot of cities are just starting to build theirs,” she said.
-- Contact Jenna Chandler at 784-5000, Ext. 1050, or email@example.com.