February 22, 2021. The city of Statesboro, which operates a natural gas pipeline system serving customers inside and in some directions beyond the city limits, is spending up to $684,000 on a new compressed natural gas (CNG) filling station to keep the city’s fleet of CNG-fueled trucks rolling.

“It is our plan to continue to expand the fleet by adding additional units, with our focus being on heavy duty units that consume the most fuel,” city Public Utilities Director Steve Hotchkiss informed.

Currently, the city’s CNG-fueled fleet numbers 12 vehicles. These include six large trash trucks, which burn the bulk of the compressed natural gas produced at the city’s existing CNG fueling station, plus four light-duty pickup trucks and two heavy-duty service trucks. But each of the large trash trucks consumes 50 to 60 gallons per day, Hotchkiss said.

The city government purchased its current CNG station pre-used from Georgia Southern University in 2013. Previously, the university operated this equipment to supply gas to a fleet of CNG-fueled buses.

“The system served us well for several years, but now, due to age and wear, the system needs to be replaced,” Hotchkiss stated in a memo provided to City Council before last week’s meeting.

The heart of the system will consist of two new compressors that will receive natural gas from a city pipeline and compress it to a pressure of 3,200 pounds per square inch, he explained. A portion of the gas goes into high-pressure tanks as a way to “fast fill” vehicles, but the big trash trucks are filled slowly while they are parked overnight.

Asked about safety measures, Hotchkiss said that the compressor system is protected with a series of over-pressure devices and remotely operated kill switches that cut electrical power to the system if it fails.

After seeking bids from contractors that would remove the old system, do preparatory site work and supply and install a new system, the city received two offers. Zeit Energy LLC, which is based in Texas, asked $696,503. Y-Delta Inc., a Statesboro-based company, bid $476,869.

City staff members had reviewed the bid proposals for accuracy and for compliance with the city’s 2020 ordinance promoting bidding opportunities for minority and female-owned businesses, Hotchkiss reported. The staff then recommended awarding the contract to Y-Delta.

However, Hotchkiss’s request, which City Manager Charles Penny carried forward to the mayor and council, was for approval to spend up to $684,000 on the project. The memo stated that this would cover paying $36,000 to Y-Delta to add an “install and startup” package from the manufacturer, as well as an estimated $58,000 to Georgia Power for electrical power system upgrades and the city’s replacing gear such as hoses and nozzles for about $60,000.