P3 Approves Compressed Natural Gas Fueling Stations
Pennsylvania’s Public-Private Partnership (P3) Board has approved a project to develop compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling stations at public transit agencies around the state with the expectation that the public would be able to access the fuel.
Despite importing 75 percent of its natural gas just five years ago, Pennsylvania has become a net exporter of the fuel for the first time in more than 100 years.
“Right now it’s very attractive to use plentiful and natural gas as a transportation fuel and this public private partnership plan is designed to start and build the infrastructure that would allow more fueling stations to make it easier to own and operate a compressed natural gas vehicle,” said Rich Kirkpatrick a spokesman for PennDOT.
In 2013, Pennsylvania became the second-largest natural gas producing state in the nation, according to Kirkpatrick, “The abundance of low-cost natural gas has driven electric and natural gas prices down nearly 40 percent since 2008, saving the average Pennsylvania resident annually in lower energy costs.”
Kirkpatrick said PennDOT is authorized and obligated to enter in to agreements in order to provide better transportation services, “We are using public-private partnerships to be innovative, and to save tax payers time and money in terms of building transportation improvements.”
Under the project the CNG fueling sites are to be operating by fall 2015. To jump start the effort, PennDOT will release a Request for Qualifications to solicit interested private developers, and expects to invite qualified teams to submit proposals early next year. A project team will then be selected next summer.
These 37 fueling sites will not only be available to transit agencies Kirkpatrick said. “From an environmental stand point using natural gas lowers the carbon footprint as oppose to using diesel fuel so there is an environmental benefit there,” said Kirkpatrick.
The Public and Private Partnerships for Transportation Act of 2012, permits PennDOT and other transportation authorities and commissions to partner with private companies to participate in designing, building, financing, operating and maintaining projects such as the CNG filling stations.