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Tanking up with natural gas

Laura Sturza

Cleaner air is coming to town with the opening of the city’s

compressed natural-gas fueling station -- cutting city gas costs, but

not yielding income for the city.

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“We expect to save at least $10,000 [of $126,000 spent] on fuel

alone per year,” said Marisa Garcia, project manager for the city.

While the facility, which opened Thursday, is not a money-making

enterprise for the city, it is a way to promote the use of natural

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gas-burning cars, Garcia said.

“The city gave up our royalties in order to control the price of

gas for its private fleet and [to encourage outside users],” Garcia

said.

City and privately owned vehicles can fill up with the

cleaner-burning fuel, which sells for about $1.75 a gallon, though

prices will fluctuate with market rates.

Burbank has 25 natural gas vehicles, which is more than the state

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requires, Garcia said. The only vehicles that the state requires to

be natural gas are larger ones like trash trucks. The city will add

almost 90 natural-gas cars to its fleet in the coming years.

“We want to help promote alternative fuels so that costs will go

down and we won’t be so reliant on foreign oil,” Garcia said.

The $800,000 station was paid for with $600,000 in state grants

and $200,000 from ENRG, the company that has a contract to operate

and maintain the station for 10 years.

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“The station cost the city zero dollars to build,” Garcia said.

About 100 private vehicles, including private trash services,

shuttles and taxis, are expected to use the station regularly. While

natural-gas cars are available to the public, they are not as readily

available as electric-gas hybrids.

Resident Scott Shaffer, owner of City Cab, welcomes the opening of

the station. The drivers of his 100 natural-gas cars, about 25% of

his fleet, have been reliant on stations in Van Nuys and Glendale.

The Glendale station is frequently closed due to maintenance

problems, Shaffer said.

“We’re very excited because it’s been difficult to get the drivers

to use the cars,” Shaffer said. “I expect to buy more, given the gas

crisis. We can probably buy [natural gas] cheaper, and the drivers

are excited that it’s only five minutes away.”

Residents can use the station at 810 N. Lake St. anytime and can

fill their tanks by paying with a credit card. For more information

about the station, call 238-3905.


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