The city of Olathe and Johnson County are teaming up on a joint fueling station to accommodate their growing fleets of vehicles powered with cleaner-burning compressed natural gas.
The Olathe City Council on Tuesday signed off on a $3.3 million price tag for the fueling station planned to be built at the city’s public works facility at 1385 S. Robinson Drive.
The city will pay two-thirds of the fueling station’s construction cost while the county will pay the rest. Olathe is also paying $525,000 for station equipment, which it plans to pay for with state grants.
Olathe is in the process of converting its fleet of 33 garbage trucks from diesel to compressed natural gas, or CNG. Seven trucks are already CNG-powered while the city plans to replace another 11 trucks next year, as well as add two CNG-powered street sweepers. The entire garbage truck fleet is expected to be converted to CNG-powered before 2025, said field operations manager Zach Hardy.
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Hardy told council members that public works officials began looking at converting to CNG four years ago. He said CNG produces much less pollution than diesel fuel and its price fluctuates far less. In addition, he said, CNG-powered vehicles cost less to maintain and save enough money that they pay for themselves in six years.
Currently, the city fuels its CNG vehicles at a small fueling station the county operates at its transit hub for its CNG-powered buses.
The city and county governments agreed last year that cooperating on a new, larger CNG fueling station made sense.
Newport Beach, Calif.-based Clean Energy is designing the station and will oversee construction.
Jeff Blakeman, a project coordinator for the city’s public works department, said construction is expected to begin in February with the station opening next summer.
Blakeman added that the two governments still need to work out an agreement for how much the county will pay the city for maintenance of the joint building as well as for fuel sales.
Council members unanimously approved continuing with the project.
“I think it makes a lot of sense, and I’m glad we’re moving forward on it,” said Councilman Jim Randall.
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