Local and state officials recently cut the ribbon for the Beaver County Transit Authority’s first compressed natural gas fueling facility. In a front-page story, the Beaver County Times reported that it’s the “first step in a long process” of converting all of BCTA’s buses to the new CNG technology in an innovative public-private partnership contract overseen by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.
Developer Trillium CNG teamed with design firm Larson Design Group (LDG) for design/construction for the BCTA facility among 29 compressed natural gas fueling stations and 22 repair garage modifications for transit authorities statewide, the largest and one of the first P3 projects for US transit fueling. LDG’s portion was managed by Matthew Nealis, PE, CEM, LEED AP, one of the most experienced and knowledgeable design experts in natural gas compliant vehicle repair garages in Pennsylvania. The project is so cutting edge that it’s been nominated for several local and regional innovation and engineering excellence awards.
Adding to the originality is the financial leasing arrangement with Trillium constructing and leasing the facilities for 20 years and paying royalties for every gallon of CNG gas sold. After an approximately 20-year period, Trillium will transfer the facilities to PennDOT and the agencies, with a projected net zero cost to taxpayers. The P3 mechanism allows fueling stations to be installed faster than if a traditional procurement mechanism was used for each site, resulting in significant estimated capital cost savings of more than $46 million.
This innovation also is different because Pennsylvania is using its own locally sourced supply of fracked natural gas to create more fuel-efficient vehicles. The CNG initiative also reduces dependency on foreign-controlled oil resources and pricing. It will help transit agencies, municipalities and the commonwealth save money while enhancing the environment. Communities will have less noise as CNG engines operate at levels of 90% lower than diesel, and they will enjoyer higher air quality as greenhouse gases from CNG engines are much lower than diesel.
Some of the stations will have a public component to their operation, allowing private companies to refuel their vehicles at competitive rates, providing cleaner fuel options to those communities.
LDG and Trillium incorporated prototypical designs and efficiencies to reduce costs for PennDOT which contributed to lower fuel costs for transit authorities. LDG is known in the industry for its experience to design for the lowest-possible capital and operational costs. LDG’s solutions can be used anywhere and everywhere for vehicle fleets operated by school districts, bus fleets, airports, the military and other government agencies. LDG is at the forefront of creating an alternate fuel economy that reduces dependence on imported fuel.