Columbia Considers Alternative Fuel

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COLUMBIA - The city is weighing fuel options for city vehicles.  Compressed natural gas is a fossil fuel substitute, which costs less than diesel and gasoline.  The city would purchase 10 to 12 new garbage trucks powered by the natural gas, which would lead to an alternative fuel station.

Clean Energy is the largest seller of compressed natural gas in North America.  It suggested the idea of alternative fuel to Columbia's city council.  The company would pay for the construction of the alternative fuel station and the city would pay for the fuel it uses and keeping the fuel pressurized. 

A large garbage truck powered by natural gas could cost $38,000-$40,000 more than a diesel-powered truck.  If the city purchased enough vehicles to take advantage of the fuel's low cost, it could recover that extra cost within four years.

The city said if the project is successful, Columbia would replace future purchases with the new trucks.  The city also said the alternative trucks are safer than standard trucks.  Workers would no longer have to manually get garbage off the curb. 

A possible location for the station is near the intersection of U.S. 63 and Interstate 70.  It would be the only station between St. Louis and Kansas City, bringing more business to the Columbia area.  The decision to purchase new vehicles and build a station could be made in the next 60-90 days.