Tallahassee, FL-based Nopetro LLC has opened in its hometown a compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling facility, part of a planned regional network “that will make CNG a workable cost-saving option for government and commercial fleets as well as individual CNG vehicle owners,” the company said Tuesday.

The facility, which is the product of a partnership of Nopetro and the Leon County School District, is the largest CNG fueling operation on the East Coast, according to the company.

“The school district is transforming its entire fleet of diesel-powered school buses to CNG, and other public and private consumers may also fuel their CNG vehicles at the station,” Nopetro said. “A portion of each sale will benefit the school district, thanks to the partnership with Nopetro.”

Nopetro has identified 15 additional cities in Florida, including Miami, Orlando and Tampa; and three in Georgia, including Atlanta, that it is targeting for CNG service over the next three years.

“This network of stations will make it possible for heavy truck traffic, local government vehicles and school buses to convert to natural gas, a fuel source that is domestically abundant and at least 25% cheaper and 33% cleaner than diesel fuel,” the company said.

Legislation (HB 599) adopted by the state in April requires the Florida Department of Transportation to develop by July 1, 2013 a freight mobility and trade plan that includes policies and investments that promote CNG, liquefied natural gas and propane to reduce transportation costs for businesses and residents.

Cost savings from the planned CNG station network will benefit consumers and the area’s economy, and as individual stations are built, local school systems and governments will be able to enjoy significant cost savings as well, according to Florida Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Commissioner Adam Putnam.

The partnership of Nopetro and the Leon County School District “is exactly what our legislature had in mind when it established natural gas as a key component of the state’s transportation policies,” Putnam said. “A network of natural gas fueling stations in major cities across our state will encourage commercial fleets and individual consumers to make the move into Florida’s energy future.”

Nopetro won’t be without competition as it brings its CNG network to market. Earlier this year the natural gas marketing unit of Delaware-based Chesapeake Utilities Corp. and Wise Gas Inc. said they plan to jointly develop a series of CNG fueling stations in Florida and along the East Coast to serve both municipal and private-sector fleets (see Daily GPI, April 12). And Florida-based Waste Pro USA has committed to a $100 million program to develop a network of CNG refuse hauling trucks and the fueling stations to support them (see Daily GPI, April 20). Waste Pro operates in 70 locations in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, North Carolina, Louisiana and Mississippi.

Legislation is likely next year in Florida to help boost the use of natural gas vehicles, according to one state House representative (see Daily GPI, Aug. 17).

Earlier this year Nopetro was one of eight applicants, along with the city of Atlanta and six other commercial operators, that submitted proposals to AGL Resources’ Atlanta Gas Light Co. to build up to nine new CNG fueling stations throughout Georgia under a program authorized by state regulators last year (see Daily GPI, May 31). The first station is slated to open in mid-2013.

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