Putnam Touts Launch of Statewide Network Making
CNG Vehicles a Viable Part of Florida’s Energy Future
~ Praises public-private partnership between Leon County Schools, Nopetro ~
TALLAHASSEE – Florida’s top energy official, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, today hailed the opening of Nopetro’s state-of-the-art compressed natural gas (CNG) facility for Leon County Schools, which for the first time offers Florida and the Southeast the prospect of a viable natural gas solution. The station is part of a planned statewide network that will make CNG a workable cost-saving option for government and commercial fleets as well as individual CNG vehicle owners.
When Nopetro’s first-of-its-kind network of stations is completed, Putnam said, the private fleets of heavy freight vehicles that move Florida’s consumer goods will have a practical way to traverse the state on CNG. This will produce tremendous cost savings, which will benefit consumers and in turn fuel Florida’s economy, he added. As individual stations are built, Putnam said, local schools and governments will be able to enjoy significant cost savings that will benefit the taxpayers.
Putnam praised Leon County School Superintendent Jackie Pons and Nopetro for forging the partnership to produce substantial cost savings for the school district while setting a positive, environmentally friendly example for students.
“This partnership is exactly what our Legislature had in mind when it established natural gas as a key component of the state’s transportation policies,” Putnam said. “A network of natural gas fueling stations in major cities across our state will encourage commercial fleets and individual consumers to make the move into Florida’s energy future.”
The Tallahassee facility – the largest and most expansive CNG fueling station on the East Coast of the United States – is the product of an innovative partnership between the public and private sectors to find a more affordable alternative fuel source for the Leon County School District. At Pons’ direction, the school district is transforming its fleet of diesel-powered school buses and other vehicles to CNG. Other consumers, including local governments and private users, may also fuel their CNG vehicles at the station, with part of the proceeds benefiting the school district thanks to the partnership with Nopetro.
“This is truly a day worth celebrating – a big step forward in Florida’s journey toward independence from expensive foreign fuels,” said Jorge Herrrera, co-founder and CEO of Nopetro, which has offices in Tallahassee and Miami. “Nopetro epitomizes the American dream of hard work producing result, and we are proud to be leading the way both here in Tallahassee and across Florida and the Southeast.”
Also participating in the grand opening event were state Sen. Bill Montford, CEO of the Florida Association of District School Superintendents; and Leticia Adams, energy policy director for the Florida Chamber of Commerce. During the event, Nopetro identified 17 additional cities it is targeting for the network of CNG fueling stations over the next three years, including (alphabetically) Daytona Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Fort Pierce, Gainesville, Jacksonville, Key Largo, Miami, Ocala, Orlando, Pensacola, Sarasota, St. Augustine, Tampa and West Palm Beach in Florida, and Macon and Savannah in Georgia.
Public entities in Tallahassee have moved enthusiastically toward CNG. Leon County has already purchased 44 CNG-based school buses and Pons has committed to using CNG for the school district’s entire 205-bus fleet. Separately, the City of Tallahassee has purchased eight sanitation vehicles that will be powered by CNG from the Nopetro station. Leon County government, Florida State University and others have also begun acquiring CNG vehicles, all of which can refuel at the Nopetro facility.
“CNG vehicles are absolutely the way to go for Leon County Schools,” Superintendent Pons said. “In addition to saving money that can be directed back into our educational programs, they set an outstanding example for kids by showing how everyone can play a role in protecting our planet’s resources.”
Nopetro’s Tallahassee facility and those that follow will make it possible for Florida’s heavy truck traffic, local government vehicles and school buses to convert to natural gas, a fuel source that is domestically abundant, at least 25 percent cheaper and 33 percent cleaner than diesel fuel. One week ago, on Monday, September 17, the nationwide average price of gasoline was 37 percent more expensive than natural gas and diesel was 46 percent more expensive, according to the “Clean Cities Alterative Fuel Price Report” issued by the U.S. Department of Energy.
CNG is widely recognized as an ideal fuel alternative to gasoline and diesel. In addition to the fact that it is substantially cheaper and cleaner than petroleum-based fuels, the United States has one of the largest supplies of natural gas in the world.
Natural gas is a key component of Florida’s new freight mobility policy adopted by the Legislature in HB 599 and currently being implemented by the Florida Department of Transportation. The legislation requires the department to create a Freight Mobility and Trade Plan, and among the four goals of the plan must be “Increasing the implementation of compressed natural gas (CNG), liquefied natural gas (LNG), and propane energy policies that reduce transportation costs for businesses and residents located in the state.”