“We’re running our vehicles at a much, much cheaper rate,” O’Leary said. “We expect over $1 million in savings in the city’s overall fuel budget in about three-and-a-half to four years,”
O’Leary estimates that the fueling facility will have paid for itself within a couple of years.
“In round numbers, the cost of this system was about $2 million,” he said. “We were successful in obtaining about $1.5 million in grant funds from the U.S. Department of Energy. That was part of that stimulus package administered by the Oklahoma Department of Commerce. The city was able to build this facility for about $500,000.”
O’Leary said the facility has high capacity and will be able to serve the increasing demand for CNG fuel.
“We’re very fortunate that we can continue to grow this station,” O’Leary said.
The machinery has been very reliable so far but will require maintenance. The city has not hired additional staff to operate the facility yet.
“To our fleet operations’ credit, we are literally doing this with existing staff,” O’Leary said.
Staff received training to do daily maintenance. Out of 12 auto technicians, eight or nine are now CNG certified, O’Leary said. The city is investigating an outside maintenance program to have an outside contractor come in and do the maintenance on an annual-fee basis in the future.
Norman intends to implement a “proactive maintenance program,” he said.
“We knew that going in,” O’Leary said. “We’re at that point now — we’re a pretty big operation.”
In Oklahoma, the legislature passed a nickel-a-gallon tax on CNG, which O’Leary said is “pretty equivalent to unleaded,” so those sales still help maintain roads and bridges across the state just as the fuel taxes on gasoline and diesel do.
“We pay state and federal on public sales,” O’Leary said. “I’m very proud of our team, Mike White and his staff. We did this entire thing in-house.”