Earlier this year, attendees at Green Drinks got to tour the newest school bus in the Leon County School fleet, a bus that runs on natural gas rather than fume-producing diesel. The horsepower and torque of natural gas trucks equally match their diesel counterparts.
This past week, Leon County Schools announced it will became the first school district in Florida to convert its entire school bus fleet to natural gas. Currently 14 out of the 240 school buses operate on natural gas.
On Tuesday, the school district is partnering with Tallahassee-based nopetro to build and operate a natural gas fueling station.
The $2.5million dollar project will help the school district continue to transition 44 additional school buses to natural gas. The station will be used to re-fuel school buses but would also be available to the public.
Leon County Schools and nopetro would share royalties from private sales. Leon County Superintendent Jackie Pons said the move will save the district up to 40 percent on fuel costs. The school system also says, the new buses will last about four years longer than the conventional ones, replacing older buses with the natural gas buses each year as old ones need to be retired.
The school system also had a new Ford Focus converted to use natural gas and estimate a converted car could save about $2,000 a year.
A conversion kit runs around $8,000. Locally, Lively Technical Center is teaching students how to convert cars to natural gas.
While natural gas is promoted as the cleanest burning and cheapest commercially available alternative fuel, no word yet on solving the myraid of pollution and water consumption issues created by hydraulic fracturing, (fracking) here in the US.