CLEARWATER, FL - Clearwater City Council voted last week to build the Tampa Bay area's  first natural gas fueling station. The station's first users will be City garbage trucks that will be converted to run on natural gas, although the station will be open to the public, according to the St. Petersburg Times.

The fueling station construction is the result of partnership between Clearwater Gas System (owned by the City) and the City's Solid Waste Department, according to Clearwater Gas. Two or three Clearwater trash trucks will be converted to run on natural gas initially, as well as every new garbage truck that Clearwater buys from now on. The City operates approximately 800 vehicles used in various departments, and the Solid Waste department operates more than 70 diesel-powered refuse trucks.

The City expects the $12,000 annual fuel savings will pay off the vehicle conversion cost within four years. It also expects the station will pay for itself within seven years as long as it's fueling 45 garbage trucks and 30 utility trucks by then, according to the newspaper.

Construction is planned to start in January 2011, to be finished by May.