Santa Clara County in California will construct a compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling station at the fleet management facility in San Jose. With the fueling capabilities of the new station, the County plans to convert 25% of its 2,500 vehicles to CNG within 10 years. By doing so, the County expects to decrease its use of petroleum by 333,375 gallons per year.

The County will fund the CNG station with a grant award of $300,000 from the California Energy Commission and a match of $900,000 in County funds. The station will be accessible to the public 24/7 and will include a single CNG dispenser with dual hoses – one for buses and large applications and one for smaller vehicles. Construction is expected to start within 12 months and be completed by 2015.

Dave Snow, facilities and fleet deputy director, said the first focus for CNG vehicles will be on Sheriff Custody Transportation buses. “Given at least 15 buses that represent a significant portion of overall vehicle miles travelled for the fleet will require replacement over the next five years, it makes sense to consider replacing these vehicles with compressed natural gas technology,” Snow said.

Earlier, the fleet held a vehicle demonstration program with two Honda GX sedans in order to introduce County departments to CNG and evaluate performance, according to Snow.

Snow added that he hopes the availability of CNG vehicles will increase. “While the Honda GX is the only factory produced vehicle at this time, the County looks forward to OEMs providing new CNG makes and models to the market. Pickups and vans are needed to support the provision of service throughout the County, and we see an opportunity to manage fuel costs while reducing vehicle emissions,” he said.    

In 2012, CNG fuel averaged $2.05 per gasoline/diesel gallon equivalent, compared to $4.03 for a gallon of gasoline and $4.23 for a gallon of diesel, according to the County.

There are currently five CNG stations in Santa Clara County.

By Thi Dao