It has been eight years since Sam Swearngin thought it would be a good thing for Kansas City to have a natural-gas station that would be open to the public.
On Monday, he stood before 50 people who gathered to celebrate a brand-new station that will help fuel the city government’s fleet of natural-gas vehicles. It will also be the first in the city that will sell the fuel to the public.
“It’s such a big deal, I’m kind of nervous,” said Swearngin, vehicle fleet administrator for the city of Kansas City.
The $2.1 million station, east of the Christopher Bond Bridge on the 5300 block of Municipal Avenue, is public/private partnership with Clean Energy, a chain of about 500 natural-gas stations across the country.
The station will be open 24-hours-a day, seven days a week and accepts major credit cards. It currently has three pumps, each with two hoses for fill-ups. A fourth pump will be added later.
The city now has five stations serving a fleet of 300 vehicles including dump trucks. But this is the first open to the public which will make it easier for companies and others with fleets to use more natural-gas vehicles. Consumers are also welcome to use the station.
Natural gas is still cheaper than gas and especially diesel, its main competitor, although the price difference has shrunk because of the drop in oil prices.
Peter Grace, senior vice president at Clean Energy, said the company was interested in doing a deal with the city of Kansas City because of its reputation in using alternative-fuel vehicles. Clean Energy already operates a station for Lee’s Summit school district that is open to the public.
It will build another one near Worlds of Fun, not in a partnership with Kansas City, and has plans for a natural-gas station near downtown Kansas City.
“We’ve got a couple of more up our sleeve,” he said.
Questar Fueling, a Utah company, has opened up a public station in Kansas City, Kan. And Carter Energy, a distributor of petroleum products, is building one in the Fairfax District.
But on Monday, it was Kansas City that had the stage.
“I believe this is the first of many,” said Scott Wagner, a Kansas City councilman. “It represents the future of Kansas City.”
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