Acadiana Business

DNR grant fuels Lafayette's CNG plan

by Leslie Turk

LCG has secured another $1.25 million to boost its effort to utilize more clean-burning natural gas.

Louisiana Department of Natural Resources is granting $1.25 million to Lafayette Consolidated Government to install a compressed natural gas fueling station in the city.

"Lafayette Consolidated Government has shown great leadership in its plans to make CNG more widely available as a transportation fuel for its citizens," said DNR Secretary Scott Angelle in announcing the grant. "I applaud LCG for their efforts to encourage the use of a fuel that is clean, abundant, domestic and creates American jobs."

DNR funding for the project is provided by a grant from the DNR Empower Louisiana Transportation Efficiency and Alternative Fuels Program. The total estimated cost of the project is $2.53 million. The grant was originally awarded in June 2010 in the original round of funding of the program. In March of this year, however, LCG requested increased funding due to increased costs and project expansion, according to DNR. LCG's request coincided with additional funding for the program becoming available, and the grant was amended in June 2011.

The original grant was for $749,000 on a total project cost of $1.5 million.

Construction on the fueling station is scheduled to begin in September and be completed in late spring 2012.

The 1515 E. University Ave. fueling station will feature three dispensers with two transit hoses with four hoses available for the general public. Each dispenser will have a card reader that accepts credit cards and fleet cards.

"Through CNG, we can be more responsible to our citizens by saving money and supporting an industry that is so important to our state," says City-Parish President Joey Durel. "We have worked with some great partners to get this far - including the state of Louisiana - and we look forward to realizing the potential of this public-private partnership in the long term. In addition, we see great opportunities for expansion with public entities such as our School Board and our University, as well as members of the private sector."

LCG is currently reviewing bid proposals and expects to announce the recipient of the contract in the next two weeks.

Additional funding for the project is provided by allocations from the Louisiana Legislature and the Federal Transit Administration.

The city recently converted five new Lafayette Transit System CNG buses at a cost of $427,062 each, funded primarily by grants from the FTA for a total cost of $2.13 million, according to LCG Planning Manager Mike Hollier.
Hollier says grants from DNR totaling $1.6 million were matched with $1 million from the Legislature for the conversion of the vehicles and funding for the East University Avenue station.

Hollier says a cost/benefit analysis for the Lafayette Parish School System and UL Lafayette transit operations should be completed by the end of August.

"The Lafayette five-year CNG Conversion Plan includes three public stations in the urban area and a significant conversion of transit fleets and public vehicles for the LCG, LPSS and UL Lafayette," Hollier says.

Read more about Lafayette's CNG efforts in the current issue of ABiz.