The future of natural gas fueling WAVE transit - WECT, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

The future of natural gas fueling WAVE transit

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) – Leaders of WAVE Transit want their new facility and fleet of buses to have a lesser impact on their budget and the environment.

A new maintenance facility is in the works for the Cape Fear Public Transit Authority. While in the designing phase, staff researched the possibility of fitting it with a fueling station for compressed natural gas. Executive Director Albert Eby said the gas (CNG) would be an alternative option to petroleum.

"We're diversifying basically," he said.

The extra fuel source would reduce WAVE's dependence on foreign oil and the ever-fluctuating market that comes with it. Board member Kevin O'Grady said the price of natural gas will likely remain steady while gas prices rise and fall.

"There will be a sufficient supply and most importantly an American supply," said O'Grady.

The cost of adding CNG to the maintenance facility would not differ much from a diesel pump, according to a staff report. The roughly $300,000 estimated to be saved from the cheaper fuel would accelerate the time it takes for WAVE to pay off the initial cost.

Sixteen buses will be replaced in 2015. The ones running on CNG will be paid off in about two and a half years. The fueling station needed to keep them on the road would be covered in a little more than six years.

"Any more vehicles we add after the initial 16 will only speed up that time," Eby said.

Eby added that WAVE staff plan to solicit bids from private companies for the job in the next month.

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