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Nashua to expand compressed natural gas fueling facility



NASHUA - The city is about to have one of the largest compressed natural gas fueling facilities in New England, as plans are under way to double the amount of storage vessels currently at the site.

Earlier this month, the Nashua Planning Board approved the expansion of the city's CNG fueling facility to allow for three additional gas storage vessels.

"This is our largest station in terms of footprint and capacity of other CNG stations we have in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island," Michael Manning said of the Nashua complex.

Manning, director of marketing and business development for Alternative Vehicle Service Group LP, said that the city's ongoing efforts to increase its fleet of CNG vehicles is causing some delays for vehicles filling their tanks each weekday.

"There has been some lag time in fueling each morning," said Manning, He said the addition of three new storage vessels will eliminate the line of vehicles waiting at the pump.

There are currently three CNG storage vessels at the facility on Riverside Street, for a total 300 gasoline gallon equivalents.

The new storage vessels will double the capacity to 600 gallons, according to Manning, which will allow about 10 vehicles to be fueled without delay compared to about five vehicles.

"When the fueling facility was built in 2010, it was constructed to allow for the extra set of three storage vessels, said Manning.

"The vessels are refilled multiple times during the day," said Manning, who explained a typical refuse truck will consume about 65 gallons if it is near empty. "The vessels, for the most part, are never empty."

The station is fully accessible to the public, and is currently consuming more than 3,000 gallon gas equivalents per month.

Nashua has a fleet of about 40 CNG vehicles, which includes mostly garbage trucks, two street sweepers and some heavy duty pickup trucks. Earlier this year, the finance committee authorized the purchase of a $420,000 CNG bus for the Nashua Transit System, one of two fuel-efficient buses expected to be bought this year by the city.

Last year, Nashua was recognized as the first community in New England to aggressively replace its city vehicles with more energy efficient trucks, receiving accolades from NGVAmerica and Harvard University for its efforts.

Nashua is paying about $2.30 a gallon for its compressed natural gas vehicles, Mayor Donnalee Lozeau said previously, noting CNG vehicles are not only good for the environment, but are saving the city significant money in fuel costs.

There are three major benefits for municipalities looking to purchase CNG vehicles, said Manning.

He said the fuel is extremely clean, it is a domestic, U.S. produced fuel with a very stable price, and CNG vehicles do not require after-treatments on their exhaust systems like diesel trucks do, which can save communities a lot of cash.

Large CNG vehicles are still costly, the prices are coming down, said Manning - a typical CNG garbage truck costs around $300,000 compared to a regular diesel garage truck with a price-tag of about $250,000.

"It has just grown exponentially," he said. "The product numbers are increasing and the cost numbers are decreasing."

During a visit to Nashua last year, President Barack Obama commended the city for trying be more energy efficient.

During a tour of Nashua Community College, Obama - who was promoting his efforts to boost domestic energy production and reduce the nation's dependence on foreign oil - said he was pleased to hear that Nashua is taking steps to reduce its fuel usage.

At the time, Obama called on every government agency to ensure that by 2015 all new government vehicles purchased are fuel efficient.



khoughton@newstote.com





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