Pontotoc to convert some vehicles to natural gas

By Bobby Harrison
Daily Journal Jackson Bureau

FLOWOOD – Pontotoc Mayor Jeff Stafford said he hopes the conversion of five city vehicles to be fueled by compressed natural gas is just the beginning for his city.

“We have been researching this for five years,” Stafford said of converting city vehicles to run on natural gas instead of more expensive gasoline. “When I ran for re-election, one of my campaign promises was to get gas cheaper.”

Stafford was on hand Wednesday in a busy section of Rankin County in suburban Jackson as the NGA Solutions announced the opening of the first commercial fueling station for vehicles that run on natural gas. The cost on Wednesday was $1.99 per gallon.

In coordination with the ribbon-cutting was the announcement that Pontotoc, along with the cities of Flowood in the Jackson area and Quitman in south Mississippi, was converting a small portion of its vehicle fleets with the intention of converting many more in the future.

The cities are taking advantage of zero-interest loans from the state, in a program created by the 2012 Legislature, to pay for much of the costs of the conversion.

In Pontotoc, Stafford said at least $60,000 in state loan funds will be used to build a fueling station there for city vehicles.

“We want everybody to see it work,” Stafford said, adding eventually the fueling station opened in Pontotoc would be available to the public. The city of Pontotoc is equipped to open a fueling station because it already operates a large natural gas provider.

Currently, there are only about 1,000 commercial natural gas fueling stations in the country, though estimates say there will be 12,000 by 2015.

State Rep. Randy Boyd, R-Mantachie, who attended the ribbon-cutting, said he spent about $6,200 to convert his Chevrolet truck to run on natural gas. He said the truck can be filled up at Mantachie Natural Gas, but it is a much longer process than at a specially equipped vehicle fueling station like the one opened Wednesday in Flowood.

He said when he travels he has to map out a route where he knows he can refuel. Of course, if problems occur, he can convert back to traditional gas until he finds a natural gas fueling station.

Currently, in Mississippi a few companies with large fleets, such as Waste Management, have converted some of their vehicles to natural gas.

Gov. Phil Bryant, who also attended the ribbon-cutting, said he is working to convert much of the state fleet. He said that is his goal, because it is a much cheaper and cleaner energy that is abundant in Mississippi.

He said as the conversion kit becomes cheaper more people will convert their vehicles. Plus, many auto manufacturers now are producing vehicles that run on natural gas.

“This is a clean fuel that gives out almost no byproduct into the atmosphere,” he said. “This is a wonderful example of what we are trying to do.”

In Pontotoc, Stafford said his truck is being converted along with other high mileage vehicles. He said as more vehicles are converted the city’s fuel costs will be reduced, providing additional funds for other services.

bobby.harrison@journalinc.com

  • Etoh

    The city of Pontotoc should fuel their vehicles with the abundant biofuels from the Enerkem Mississippi Biofuels refinery being built at the Three Rivers Landfill…oh, never mind.

    • TWBDB

      Wonderful!! Green energy investment and research continues to bring the very solutions necessary to wean us off traditional gasoline and oil consumption. Already companies have learned how to harvest, optimize, and reintroduce the natural gas producing microbes to revive dead resources. Waste remediation (again microbial appliations – biofuels) assists municipalities in converting pollutants into useful energy. Algae based biofuel production not only brings us fuel to run in our vehicles but Omega-3 lipids so valuable in our own food resources. I look around my neighborhood and see house after house converting to solar panels. Scoff if you will but our change is on it’s way and I’m very happy to see the MS is joining in

      • Etoh

        My comment was not meant to scoff the city of Pontotoc’s decision to convert it’s fleet to natural gas. My comment is meant as a reminder of the multiple statements from Enerkem and Three Rivers of “Coming Soon To A Landfill Near You” dating back to March of 2008! They have multiple times stated to the media and others “We plan to begin construction this year” but here they are 5 and a half years later and zero progress has been made. Meanwhile KiOR has not only completed construction of their biofuels refinery, and are producing and SELLING ethanol to local refineries, they are planning on expanding. Why can KiOR do it and not our neighbors to the North?

        • TWBDB

          Very good question

          • Etoh

            Thank you TWBDB. I think it is a very good question that has been asked many times by many people but the answer usually equates “we plan to begin construction later this year”.