Natural Gas – Conversions, Vehicles and Technology

Sacramento County Opens New CNG Station

August 06, 2015

Sacramento is switching its LNG fleet to CNG vehicles and will have 45 CNG units by the end of the year. Photo courtesy of Sacramento Clean Cities
Sacramento is switching its LNG fleet to CNG vehicles and will have 45 CNG units by the end of the year. Photo courtesy of Sacramento Clean Cities

Sacramento County, Calif., has opened a $1.9 million compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling station on Aug. 5, helping the county fleet transition to CNG from liquefied natural gas (LNG). 

The combination time fill/fast fill station will be used primarily to provide fuel for the county's refuse fleet, but also has a fast-fill dispenser to allow other county vehicles to fuel up, according to TruStar.

The county has been utilizing LNG since 2004, but CNG provides economic benefits that make the switch a prudent decision, said Chris Celsi, the county's Department of Waste Management and Recycling superintendent.

"We have two yards that we operate out of — but only one LNG station, which forces us to fuel a large bulk tanker that we affectionately call 'Orca', which then transports LNG to our second location, where our drivers will then line up to fuel," said Celsi. "One of the big issues is we're then paying our drivers to wait up to 45 minutes for their turn to fuel their vehicle. With the CNG station, our drivers simply plug their trucks in and walk away."

The combined time fill/fast fill station is configured to time fill 40 vehicles simultaneously at night when electrical power (that runs the compressors) is at its cheapest.

Keith Leech, chief of Sacramento County Fleet Division and Parking Enterprise and president of Sacramento Clean Cities, said the county plans to transition its entire LNG fleet to CNG, and it will swap out LNG trucks for CNG vehicles over the next seven to 10 years. It is also establishing an agreement with Sacramento Regional Transit to fuel CNG vehicles at the transit fueling station in the northern part of the county.

It will be aggressively seeking new natural gas-powered vehicles now that the station is open. Leech said by the end of this year, the county will have 45 refuse trucks fueling at the new station. The county plans to purchase another 14 refuse trucks, six shuttle buses for the airport fleet, four dump trucks and a sweeper for the Department of Transportation, and five three-quarter-ton transportation utility body trucks. Leech hopes the county will receive grant funding for the purchase of some of these vehicles.

*Updated 8/7/15 to state that the station is new, not refurbished.

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