As part of a new year’s sprint along America’s Natural Gas Highway, the first liquefied natural gas (LNG) fueling station in Florida has opened, according to California-based Clean Energy Fuels Corp., which announced several other natural gas transportation advancements on Wednesday.

In addition to the grand opening in Jacksonville, FL, two LNG fueling stations were opened by Clean Energy in Pontoon Beach, IL, and Fontana, CA. All three are part of what the gas transportation fuel supplier dubbed as a national natural gas fueling network (see Daily GPI, Aug. 25, 2011).

Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown said natural gas use in transportation “an important and growing field” that promises environmental and economic benefits to his city. “My administration is committed to supporting innovators like Clean Energy that drive investment and job creation with a 21st Century vision.”

Representatives from major fleet operators at United Parcel Service (UPS) and Raven Transport also spoke at the opening of the station that will be used by their fleet vehicles.

CEO Andrew Littlefair said because Florida taking steps to support more use of natural gas vehicles (NGV), the company is helping expand the needed infrastructure.

Clean Energy also has signed fueling contracts with public sector customers in Texas and New York. Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) inked a multi-year contract to maintain its four compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling stations as part of its ongoing plans to deploy 580 CNG-fueled vehicles as part of its public transit fleet.

Similarly, Smithtown, NY, renewed its contract for Clean Energy to operate the city’s network of private-sector refuse/recycling collection fleets. The Suffolk County Long Island city of 117,000 is the first city in East to mandate natural gas use in refuse/recycling trucks operating within its boundaries and it signed a fueling agreement with Clean Energy in 2006.

During the past eight years, four private refuse/recycling fleets contracting with the city and the municipal fleet in Smithtown all operate on CNG supplied by Clean Energy.