Florida's top energy official, Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Commissioner Adam Putnam, hailed the opening of Nopetro LLC's state-of-the-art compressed natural gas (CNG) facility, which for the first time offers Florida and the Southeast the prospect of a viable natural gas solution not seen anywhere outside of California. The station is part of a planned regional network that will make CNG a workable cost-saving option for government and commercial fleets as well as individual CNG vehicle owners.
Putnam said the private fleets of heavy freight vehicles that move Florida's consumer goods will have a practical way to traverse the state and region fueled by CNG. This will produce tremendous cost savings, which will benefit consumers and the area's economy, and as individual stations are built local schools and governments will be able to enjoy significant cost savings that will benefit the taxpayers, he said.
Putnam praised Nopetro and the Leon County School District for forging a partnership to produce substantial cost savings for public schools while setting a positive, environmentally friendly example for students.
"This partnership is exactly what our Legislature had in mind when it established natural gas as a key component of the state's transportation policies," Putnam said. "A network of natural gas fueling stations in major cities across our state will encourage commercial fleets and individual consumers to make the move into Florida's energy future."
The Tallahassee facility – the largest and most expansive CNG fueling operation on the East Coast of the United States – is the product of an innovative partnership between the public and private sectors. The school district is transforming its entire fleet of diesel-powered school buses to CNG, and other public and private consumers may also fuel their CNG vehicles at the station. A portion of each sale will benefit the school district thanks to the partnership with Nopetro.
"This is truly a day worth celebrating – a big step forward in the journey toward independence from expensive foreign fuels," said Jorge Herrera, co-founder and CEO of Nopetro, which has offices in Tallahassee and Miami. "Nopetro epitomizes the American dream of hard work producing results, and we are proud to be leading the way both here in Tallahassee and across Florida and the Southeast."
Nopetro identified 18 additional cities it is targeting over the next three years, including Daytona Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Fort Pierce, Gainesville, Jacksonville, Key Largo, Miami, Ocala, Orlando, Pensacola, Sarasota, St. Augustine, Tampa and West Palm Beach in Florida, and Atlanta, Macon and Savannah in Georgia.
This network of stations will make it possible for heavy truck traffic, local government vehicles and school buses to convert to natural gas, a fuel source that is domestically abundant and at least 25 percent cheaper and 33 percent cleaner than diesel fuel. At the start of last week (September 17), the nationwide average price of gasoline was 37 percent more expensive than natural gas and diesel was 46 percent more expensive, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
CNG is widely recognized as an ideal fuel alternative to gasoline and diesel. In addition to the fact that it is substantially cheaper and cleaner than petroleum-based fuels, the United States has one of the largest supplies of natural gas in the world.