Oak Ridge Utility District has installed a compressed natural gas fueling station behind its office on South Jefferson Circle to power a growing fleet of vehicles that can run on natural gas or conventional fuel.
ORUD already has a Ford Fusion car and an F-150 truck that can use either fuel, and a second truck will be converted this week, General Manager Ben Andrews said.
The trucks will be used by service technicians, he said.
The fueling station has a storage capacity equal to 45 gasoline gallons, and it offers two different methods of dispensing fuel, one known as time-fill and the other as fast-fill, an ORUD press release said.
The station allows vehicles to be filled as quickly with natural gas as they could be with gasoline, the release said.
“The word is out, natural gas is abundant and inexpensive in North America, often with prices equivalent to paying $1.50 to $2 per gallon of gasoline,” the release said.
It also said compressed natural gas offers a cleaner alternative to gasoline, reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 20 to 30 percent and emissions of other pollutants such as nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide by 70 percent or more.
ORUD said it is helping to solve the problem of which comes first, vehicles powered by natural gas or the stations that supply their fuel.
“ORUD is helping solve that problem by building both,” the release said. “This station, although only open to use for ORUD’s fleet vehicles, demonstrates that infrastructure and vehicle fleets can be built simultaneously.”
Besides the ORUD vehicles, Andrews said he is not aware of any other natural gas vehicles in Oak Ridge.
ORUD said it expects its natural gas vehicle fleet to grow, particularly as older vehicles are replaced.