TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Leon County Schools will switch its school bus fleet to run on natural gas as part of a partnership with Nopetro, a company that is building a network of compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG) fueling stations around the state.
Leon County Schools has signed an agreement with Nopetro to build a natural gas fueling station for the district and share back royalties from private sales. The station, which will break ground in the fall and be operational by August 2012, is the first of at least 11 stations the company plans to build around Florida and, later, along the East Coast.
Leon County Superintendent of Schools Jackie Pons said the district will transition 44 buses to CNG by the time the station opens, and hopes to transition the entire fleet to natural gas within five to 10 years.
“The switch to natural gas will save the district millions of dollars over time — money we can reinvest in the classrooms,” Pons added. “It’s significantly cleaner for our environment, and it reduces our dependence on foreign oil. That’s a triple win.”
Aside from reducing the district’s fuel costs by up to 40 percent, officials said the switch to natural gas will reduce emissions, including particulate matter, by 89 percent.
Jorge Herrera, CEO of Nopetro, said the district’s fueling station also will serve private customers, delivering both CNG and LNG used by tractor-trailer trucks. That will benefit the school district, officials said, because Nopetro will pay a royalty on all private fuel sales at the facility.
Herrera said the company is interested in forging similar partnerships with other school districts and local government bodies around the state.
“We are meeting with companies in the area that have their own truck fleets to let them know a natural gas fueling option will be available soon,” Herrera said. “The interest level has been strong. With diesel prices rising and natural gas prices expected to remain constant, natural gas is an increasingly attractive option.”