Consumer Energy Center, a division of California Energy Commission, says natural gas powers more than 12 million vehicles around the world, but only about 250,000 are in the United States. However, the number of natural gas powered vehicles in the United States has been increasing by 3.7 percent each year.
Somerset is replacing its 75-vehicle fleet with cars and trucks that use compressed natural gas. At last report the city has three Honda Civic cars and two F-150 Ford pickups, all of which use compressed natural gas. A new Dodge truck was on order and the city has just purchased for $225,000 a new compressed natural gas sanitation truck to replace one of its large garbage collection vehicles.
Compressed natural gas, a readily available alternative to gasoline, is made by compressing natural gas to less than 1 percent of its volume at standard atmospheric pressure. Somerset, with its abundance of natural gas, is trying to take advantage of what city officials believe is the energy source of the future.
The current problem is fueling stations. There are 12,000 around the world, but only 500 public stations in the United States. The Somerset fueling station, when operative, will be one of the first, if not the first, in Kentucky.
A recent report on CNN detailed efforts to fuel diesel trucks on interstates with compressed natural gas. The report noted scarcity of fueling stations as the biggest obstacle.
Obviously, Somerset’s fueling station is a bit off the beaten track for interstate traffic. However, Girdler, noting the recently purchased sanitation vehicle, said a bigger compressor has been installed at the fuel center and the local compressed natural gas pump will accommodate large trucks.
And, with Somerset located between I-65 and !-75, a relatively short detour east on Cumberland Parkway, south along Ky. 461 or west along Ky. 80 might be better than an empty tank.