By Jean Cole
The decision to convert more city vehicles to compressed-natural gas fuel could be viewed as even more prudent following the Secretary of State’s announcement Monday that chemical weapons were likely used in Syria.
CNG fuel was running $1.65 Thursday in Athens compared to the $3.21 to $3.49 per gallon of gasoline at local pumps. Some forecasters are predicting a short-term spike of up to 10 cents per gallon of gasoline after crude oil prices and gas futures rose amid fears of U.S. military action in Syria.
Over the past year, officials with the city of Athens and the Athens Utilities Gas Department have been choosing or converting vehicles to accept CNG, including garbage trucks, Gas Department vehicles, fire department trucks and even the car driven by Mayor Ronnie Marks.
Next week, the Gas Department will open a fast-fill CNG station at 1755 Trigreen Drive at the entrance to the Sportsplex on U.S. 31. That should lure other CNG vehicles to fill up in Athens since it will be the only public fast-fill station located along the Interstate 65 corridor between Birmingham and Nashville.
Members of the public can learn more about the CNG vehicles and the station during a public event at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 4.
The Greater Limestone County Chamber of Commerce will conduct a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Gas Department Manager Steve Carter and Athens Mayor Ronnie Marks will explain the city’s efforts to go green and reduce fuel costs. Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition Executive Director Mark Bentley will address the importance of the project as part of a statewide effort on the use of clean fuels.