City of Apopka Runs Cleaner and Cheaper with Natural Gas Vehicles

Apopka’s two newest garbage trucks join a growing fleet of unique vehicles to help the city save money and protect the environment.

The large, green mammoths run on compressed natural gas – a cheaper fuel alternative that saves up to $1 or more per comparable gallon of diesel fuel. The savings add up considering that Apopka’s 16 big garbage trucks can guzzle 145,000 gallons of fuel each year to serve more than 15,000 customers.

Five of those trucks now operate with compressed natural-gas engines that also create 12 percent less harmful emissions and run 90 percent quieter than typical refuse trucks.

Altogether, Apopka has 25 natural gas vehicles including 9 police cars, 10 pickups and even a street sweeper.

The city has operated natural gas vehicles since 2011, when it added natural gas pumps to a gasoline and diesel fueling site at East Eighth Street and South Highland Avenue. Apopka created the pumps with a $125,000 federal grant and equipment purchased from the LYNX regional bus service in Orlando.

Last year, Apopka invested $1.2 million to expand the natural gas site to four pumps with an emergency back-up generator. Two new compressors allow for fast fill-ups comparable to the time required for gasoline or diesel vehicles. Natural gas is purchased from the Lake Apopka Natural Gas District.

Similar public and commercial natural-gas fueling stations are growing across Florida. “Two years ago, we had 20 stations – now we have about 70,” said Dale Calhoun of the Florida Natural Gas Association. About 25 more are planned.

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The City of Orlando has 36 alternate fuel vehicles including five compressed natural-gas garbage trucks added last month. A public natural-gas station opened last month at Orlando International Airport. LYNX recently finalized a deal with the Coral Gables-based company Nopetro to build a new station in Orlando and to transition part of the bus fleet to compressed natural gas.

About 1,000 natural gas fueling stations – half of them available for public use – are located across the United States. More than 150,000 natural gas vehicles operate on U.S. roads and 15 million run worldwide.

Natural gas is becoming more popular with gasoline prices expected to rise in coming years. On average, natural gas costs one-third less than conventional gasoline at the pump.

The reduced environmental impact is another advantage. Natural gas vehicles on average reduce carbon dioxide by up to 30% and toxic emissions by up to 90%.

Natural gas vehicles also help to reduce our nation’s need for foreign oil. About 97% of the country’s natural gas demand is served here in the U.S. and in Canada.

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