Commonwealth Journal

February 7, 2013

City’s natural gas pump should be up and running in 2-3 weeks

By BILL MARDIS, Editor Emeritus
Commonwealth Journal

Somerset —  

Did you ever blow a gasket? Personally or mechanically that’s not a good thing.
It happened to the city’s compressed natural gas pump that accepts credit cards. This is the reason for delay in making the pump available to the public 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  “We got it started, cranked it up, and too much pressure or something blew the head gasket,” laughed Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler. He conceded this may not be the exact name for the part that blew its top, but anyway, the piece has been ordered and should be here next week, the mayor said.
  “(The compressed natural gas pump) should be operational within the next two or three weeks,” Girdler said.
  “It looks like any other pump at a service center,” said Girdler. “It will be open 24/7, measure the amount of natural gas pumped, and accept credit cards,” he noted. 
  Girdler said sometime ago the public will be able to purchase compressed natural gas for about $1.50 a gallon. He believes lower prices for compressed natural gas will modify regular gasoline prices.
  The mayor believes natural gas powered vehicles are the thing of the future. The city is in the process of replacing its 75-vehicle fleet with cars and trucks that are powered with compressed natural gas.
  The mayor is excited about the amount of taxpayers’ money that can be saved by using compressed natural gas-powered vehicles.  “We’ll save 75 to 80 percent of the cost of fuel by switching to natural gas,” the mayor declared.
  Problem now is scarcity of locations to fill up with compressed natural gas. When Somerset first bought a natural gas powered Honda Civic, they had to take it to Wartburg, Tennessee for a fill-up. That was before Somerset opened the compressed natural gas facility, probably the first in the state, at City of Somerset Fuel Center on Chappells Dairy Road.
  “A natural gas-powered car is just like any other car,” said Girdler. “The only difference is a slightly larger tank for compressed natural gas and a different injection system. A full tank of natural gas has pressure of 3,600 psi (pounds per square inch),” said David Hargis, manager of the fuel center.
  “We get about 32 mpg with this one,” said Girdler, referring to the Honda Civic. Compressed natural gas is a gas measured in gallons. “If you put 10 gallons in the tank, you can drive more than 300 miles,” Girdler noted.
    “I drove to Lexington and back in this Honda Civic for less than $5 worth of natural gas,” Girdler said recently. “It’s totally unbelievable!”
  Some 10-15 vehicles a week are currently filling up with compressed natural gas by appointment at the fuel center. A single pole dispenser is being used by city employees to fuel the vehicles, one from as far away as Salt Lake City.
  “We miss a lot because people come through when we are not open,” said Girdler. He expects business to really pick up when credit cards can be used and the pump is open around-the-clock.