Regional CNG Partnership to Improve Air Quality
Land of Sky Regional Council, the City of Asheville and Mission Health celebrated the delivery of new natural gas vehicles to their fleets at the newly expanded City of Asheville Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) Fueling Station at 45 McCormick Place on June 27, 2012. Recently, the City of Asheville added 23 new CNG vehicles to its existing CNG fleet, and Mission Health added five vehicles, including two shuttle buses.
Constructed in 2005, the Asheville CNG Station was expanded to accommodate the growing use of natural gas powered vehicles in the region. The station is open to other fleets and the public 24-hours a day, seven-days a week, and accepts major credit cards. Other regular clients of the station include Buncombe County’s Mountain Mobility Transportation System, UNC-Asheville and AT&T.
The CNG station expansion, the new CNG vehicles, and more than forty other alternative fuel vehicle projects across North and South Carolina, were funded in part with grants through the “Carolina Blue Skies and Green Jobs Initiative.” This initiative, which was led by Triangle J Council of Governments (TJCOG), involved an investment by the U.S. Department of Energy of $12 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding.
“AltechEco Energy of Asheville was hired to complete most of the vehicle conversions, and a local electrical contractor helped install components of the CNG station,” said City of Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy. “This partnership project is a great example of organizations working together to build a more sustainable community. In addition to improving air quality, we used the opportunity to support green jobs in the region. These are the kinds of steps that make us a more sustainable, healthy and environmentally sound city.”
Natural gas vehicles are beneficial because they use a cleaner burning and domestically produced fuel. On average, natural gas is at least $1 per gallon cheaper than gasoline, which helps both organizations reduce their fleet fuel costs.
“As a world-class health system, we endeavor to provide the highest quality patient care possible. To be successful in that effort, we must embrace innovation to find the best, most efficient ways to deliver quality care,” said Ronald A. Paulus, M.D., President and CEO of Mission Health. “We have applied that same, innovative approach to our transportation fleet. Our use of cleaner burning fuels reduces our carbon footprint, decreases carbon emissions and protects clean air, which is vital for the health of the people in western North Carolina. Using compressed natural gas over the past six years has reduced our carbon emissions by approximately 276,000 pounds. This savings translates into more than 14,000 gallons of gasoline.”
According to Land of Sky Clean Vehicles Coalition’s Bill Eaker, “The initiative will provide for a major expansion of alternative fuel vehicles and the refueling infrastructure in our region.” The coalition helped secure more than $1 million for four alternative fueled vehicle projects in the Asheville region.