By Tom Doherty, Tennessee Office of Sustainable Practices
With volatile fuel prices and the nationwide desire to decrease the country’s reliance on foreign oil, the State of Tennessee has been thrilled with what’s driving its future. There are nearly 500 alternative fueling locations in the state; these stations include: biodiesel, electric, ethanol, hydrogen, and propane.
More recently, there is a new fuel in town: compressed natural gas. CNG is often praised for having far fewer emissions than gasoline and diesel fuels, for being a relatively safe fuel, and for its economics and domestic sourcing. With the opening of several CNG stations across Tennessee, the clean fuels transportation network is opening opportunities for personal and fleet vehicle fueling, while greatly contributing to the local economy.
Corridors and Access
Beginning in 2004, after conversations about ethanol and biodiesel feasibility, CNG and propane alternatives were only just beginning to show on the horizon. Fast-forward eleven years and Tennessee has a complex network of alternative vehicle fueling stations between I-40 (west to east from Memphis to Knoxville), the I-65 Biofuels Corridor (passing through the middle of the State) and the I-75 Clean Fuels Corridor (north to south between Knoxville and Chattanooga).
Tennessee is now home to ten 24-hour public-access CNG filling stations. Whether you operate a fleet of CNG vehicles or own a personal CNG vehicle, you will never be more than 90 miles from a CNG station while in Tennessee. To showcase this fact, the Tennessee Gas Association hosted a CNG Rally from May 18-22, touring the “CNG highway.”
Several public-access stations were toured as part of the rally, including stations in Memphis, Trenton, Nashville, Athens, and Sevier County in East Tennessee. Leaving Memphis and heading east, the state’s newest CNG station – operated by the Gibson County Utility District – celebrated its grand opening in May in collaboration with the CNG Rally .
“I’ve been listening to what is happening in the energy sector and the transportation sector,” said GCUD GM Pat Riley. “From point of manufacturing to point of sale, I saw an opportunity to merge these efforts and complete the sustainability sequence of events.”
The Gibson County Utility District has spent more than $530,000 in the local community and they have already seen the rippling effects. “Every dollar spent in the community moves several times, and that is something to feel good about,” Riley notes. The GCUD CNG station is equipped with state-of-the-art technology and also includes Kohler natural gas generators and solar panels (F&F, October 17).
$2.09 per GGE
CNG is more inexpensive for fleet use than many other fuels. At the current $2.09 per gasoline gallon equivalent, traveling through Tennessee by way of the Great Smokey Mountains, Music City or Graceland, you can feel good about using a clean-burning alternative fuel that gets you the extra mile.
Tom Doherty works for in the Office of Sustainable Practices in the Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation. He manages TDEC’s Clean Tennessee Energy Grant initiative, via which the state assists communities with the implementation of energy conservation and environmental mitigation projects.
Prior to working with TDEC, Doherty worked as an environmental consultant focusing on brownfield redevelopment and economic development programs. currently holds a LEED Green Associate credential (as well as a B.S in Environmental Studies and Earth Science from Western Michigan University), and he intends to work with communities in the planning and redevelopment phase to incorporate sustainability into the design and function of the built environment.
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Source: TDEC Special to Fleets & Fuels