City Of Tulsa Using More Natural Gas Vehicles

Tuesday, March 8th 2011, 4:28 pm
By: News On 6

Lacie Lowry, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma – Gas prices in Green Country continue to rise, averaging $3.28 for a gallon of regular unleaded Tuesday night. That's a ten cent increase from last week.

The impact is even greater for the City of Tulsa, especially when a 50 cent hike in gas prices costs the city $1 million.

The city is cutting back by limiting how many employees take home their city vehicle and requiring better vehicle maintenance. They're also investing more in a cost-saving alternative.

The gallons of gas add up for the city of Tulsa. With 2,600 vehicles to keep on the streets, the city easily goes through 2 million gallons a year.

"What we pay for diesel fuel and gasoline does not include the tax that private citizens pay, but it's still in the neighborhood of $3 a gallon," Mayor Dewey Bartlett said.

With gas prices climbing, the budget next year will take a hit even though the city buys gas and diesel in bulk.

"The best estimates we have is that we'll have to pay $1.1 million more for fuel than we currently are in fiscal year eleven," Chris Benge, the Mayor's Aide, said.

The city has managed to cut down on its fuel usage by 19% since 2008 and is now expanding its use of compressed natural gas in city vehicles.

"Here today, we are making our first very public commitment to compressed natural gas," Mayor Bartlett said.

That commitment is a brand-new CNG fueling station at the city's west maintenance yard. Mayor Bartlett says the city buys natural gas for about 55 cents for the equivalent of a gallon of gasoline.

Tom Sewell has built hundreds of these fueling stations all over the world.

"It's harder on the local mom and dad, where they are having to pay $3 fuel. But the natural gas, the price is so stable right now because they found so much natural gas in the United States," he said.

Tulsa currently has 17 CNG vehicles and city leaders hope to eventually have ten percent of the fleet using compressed natural gas.

The next step for the city is building six CNG fueling spots for city trash trucks and by the end of the year, have a station in its west maintenance yard where the public can buy CNG.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, using CNG as a motor fuel in light vehicles, instead of gasoline:

  • Reduces carbon monoxide emissions by 90 to 97 percent.
  • Reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 25 percent.
  • Reduces nitrogen oxide emissions 35 to 60 percent
  • Emits fewer toxic and carcinogenic pollutants.
  • Reduces particulate matter by 80 percent or more, depending on type of vehicle.