By Adam Armour
Itawamba County Times
MANTACHIE – Northeast Mississippi’s first natural gas pump is officially open for business, and Gov. Phil Bryant is calling it a pioneering step for the area.
“This is where the stone hits the water; the ripples here will spread out all across Mississippi and the country,” the governor said during a special ribbon-cutting ceremony at the pump, located at the office of Northeast Mississippi Natural Gas in Mantachie.
The pump itself looks fairly similar to an average fuel pump, save some small differences in the shape of the nozzle and the way it attaches to the vehicle. Drivers of natural gas-powered vehicles – a growing number, Bryant said – will be able to fill up 24/7.
The cost per gallon equivalent: $1.68.
The pump is the third of its kind in the state. Two others are located in Jackson.
Mississippi’s governor has been a vocal advocate of utilizing the state’s supply of natural gas, even going so far as to address the topic in his 2012 inaugural address. During the ceremony, he repeated this belief.
“We have such wonderful natural resources in Mississippi; one of those is natural gas,” Bryant said. “Great things can happen in Mississippi … but I think we have to be bold in our thinking.”
Natural gas is often touted as the next big vehicle fuel source, and the ideal successor to petroleum – especially in Mississippi, where it’s abundant. Certainly, the advantages are many: Natural gas is cheap, abundant and clean.
While the number of natural gas vehicles on the road is still comparatively small, it’s definitely growing. The pump is expected to attract drivers of natural gas-powered vehicles from across the country, who often map out routes to hit CNG pumps along the way.
“In 2014, you’re going to see vehicles from all over the United States pulling into Mantachie and filling up at a new kind of pumping station,” said Chief Judge Sharion Aycock.
“It’s a great day for Mantachie,” said Northeast Mississippi Natural Gas Manager Mike Horton, who rallied to bring the pump to Mantachie. Since its soft opening last month, the gas pump has become the natural gas district’s single largest customer, he said.