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Lexington acquiring garbage trucks and buses that run on compressed natural gas

Mayor Jim Gray, Council members and representatives of Columbia Gas and of the Division of Waste Management had a news conference Tuesday, August 12, 2014, to discuss the city's new energy-saving garbage trucks (equipped to run on compressed natural gas), and the new compressed natural gas fueling unit for Waste Management. Photo by Stacey Dimon/Division of Government Communications
Mayor Jim Gray, Council members and representatives of Columbia Gas and of the Division of Waste Management had a news conference Tuesday, August 12, 2014, to discuss the city's new energy-saving garbage trucks (equipped to run on compressed natural gas), and the new compressed natural gas fueling unit for Waste Management. Photo by Stacey Dimon/Division of Government Communications

Compressed natural gas is touted as greener and cheaper than diesel fuel, and it's coming to Lexington in new garbage trucks, buses and fueling stations.

The city on Tuesday unveiled 11 garbage trucks that run on the fuel, and it has committed to replacing its entire fleet with garbage trucks that run on compressed natural gas over time.

The trucks cost $353,000 each — about the same as a diesel truck — and are being bought as part of the city's normal replacement schedule.

Two others are scheduled to arrive in December, and the city has budgeted $2.9 million to buy 10 to 12 more trucks over the next year.

"They're supposed to be very, very efficient," said Tracey Thurman, director of the city's Division of Waste Management.

Compressed natural gas generally costs $1.50 to $2 less than a gallon of diesel, and the garbage trucks that run on it should each save the city $6,500 a year in fuel and maintenance costs, according to a news release.

In addition to being more fuel-efficient, the city says its new trucks are also quieter.

That's generally a good thing, but Thurman joked that it does have one drawback: "If you forget your Herbie, you might not hear the truck to be able to get it out."

The city said greenhouse gas emissions from compressed natural gas are 20 percent to 30 percent less than that from diesel and gas.

"It really is a commitment to a greener Bluegrass," Thurman said.

Louisville and Princeton are already using the trucks.

The city has also received a $1.25 million federal grant for a public fueling station on city property off Old Frankfort Pike.

Somerset has been offering compressed natural gas, which is a vapor, for sale to citizens and in its own fleet of vehicles for two years.

Lexington's public station is in the early stages of development. Funding is from the federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality grant program.

Lextran received a $2.5 million CMAQ grant, which it will use to buy seven compressed natural gas buses, the first in its fleet.

"We have been striving to move towards compressed natural gas for quite some time now," Rocky Burke, Lextran general manager, said in a news release.

Jill Barnett, spokeswoman for Lextran, said the new Lextran facility at 200 West Loudon Avenue will have the infrastructure to fuel the buses.

The city's new compressed natural gas garbage trucks will be filled at a fueling station at waste management headquarters off Old Frankfort Pike.

Columbia Gas installed a mile of gas pipeline to the fueling station at its own cost, Mayor Jim Gray said in a news release. The fuel is supplied through a contract with Clean Energy.

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