All the hardware is in and approval from various regulatory agencies is the only holdup for Somerset’s compressed natural gas fueling pump.
Mayor Eddie Girdler said Thursday the pump, located at the City of Somerset Fuel Center on Chappells Dairy Road, should be operative 24/7 in a couple of weeks.
The city has been waiting on a credit card reading device before activating a compressed natural gas service station pump that will accept credit cards. Girdler predicts each day between 200 and 300 vehicles powered by natural gas will use the pump, one of the first of its kind in the state.
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.
Compressed natural gas is measured in gallons. Original estimates are that Somerset will sell compressed natural gas for about $1.50 a gallon, compared to the current $3.37 a gallon for gasoline.
Somerset is in the process of converting its 75-vehicle fleet from gasoline to natural gas. Performance is identical and a city-owned Honda Civic gets 37 mph.
“Compressed natural gas is available now at the local fueling center, but people want to use their credit cards,” Girdler said. Fill-ups with a single pole dispenser that require an attendant are done by appointment. Nonetheless, the mayor says a “steady stream” of vehicles are filling up with compressed natural gas at the fuel center during daytime business hours.