Coinciding with the increase in CNG vehicles will be the new fast-fill compressed natural gas station in Athens. The station is being constructed on city-owned property near the Sportsplex.
Currently, the city owns a slow-fill station at Leak City on Sanderfer Road. Leak City is a training facility operated by the Gas Department. The difference between a fast-fill and slow-fill CNG station is night and day, literally.
The fast-fill station will fill up a vehicle in about five to 10 minutes, according to Carter. The slow-fill station fills up a vehicle at about a gallon per hour and vehicles are normally left overnight at such stations.
The station will look very similar to a traditional gas station, except it won’t have an attached convenience store or restrooms. City employees will have a card to swipe when refueling a city vehicle while the public will be able to use a traditional credit/debit card.
It will contain a two-sided pump, with one hose being for big trucks and a second hose for cars. A 15-foot canopy will cover the pump, and the station will be well lit. While most traditional gas stations have belowground fuel storage, the CNG will be stored aboveground. The compressor, which compresses the fuel and stores it, will be 75 to 100 feet away from the pump.
The station was scheduled to be completed by January, but weather has stalled the project and the new completion date should be early spring, according to Carter.
“The weather has kind of been too bad to do underground stuff,” said Steve Carter, manager of the Athens Gas Department. “They are probably 40 percent done with it. They’re still waiting on the compressor. We’re probably looking at a completion date around the middle of April.”