CNG Station Expansion
Bakersfield’s only public-accessible, 24-7 CNG fueling station gets $2 million makeover, more improvements planned
As the sun rose over KCSOS’s transportation yard on Union Ave., a look skyward to the east yielded a familiar scene — hazy air masking a faint silhouette of the beautiful mountains beneath.
It’s no secret that Kern County has had a long-standing problem with its air quality. Many years ago, KCSOS set on a path to do its part to help alleviate the problem.
The office began transitioning its fleet of school buses to those powered by Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) in 1999 because they were much cleaner burning than traditional diesel school buses, explained Chris Frazier during an event on Nov. 6 where officials announced the completion of phase one improvements to KCSOS’s CNG fueling facility.
Greener school buses are of course good for everyone who breathes our community’s air.
“We had a specific population in mind when we chose to convert our fleet to CNG, though. Our students,” Frazier said. “KCSOS transports some of the most fragile young passengers, about 750 students with special needs to all corners of our huge county every day.”
KCSOS has taken advantage of grants that have allowed it to grow its fleet, numbering 60 CNG school busses today, and to build its original private/public CNG fueling infrastructure. In addition to re-fueling its school buses, KCSOS also offers the area’s only fully public CNG fueling station just outside the walls of the transportation yard. Private fleet vehicles and citizens who drive CNG vehicles have used the facility for years.
“As more and more companies added CNG vehicles to their fleets, it was harder for us to keep up with demand,” Frazier said. “It became apparent that we must expand our facility to meet this demand.”
Enter the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District and the Rose Foundation, which helped fund phase one of a $2 million expansion project that more than doubles the station’s capacity and allows for more efficient and convenient CNG fueling.
“We spent a considerable amount of time talking to people, both our bus drivers and the public about what they wanted in our expanded CNG facility,” said KCSOS energy conservation supervisor Scott Fieber. “Users made it clear that they wanted more dispensers that offered quicker fueling and canopies to ensure shade and better lighting.”
Phase one upgrades, which were completed in October, include two 900 cubic feet per minute (CFM) compressors (replacing a single 760 CFM compressor), larger piping, 16-foot shade canopies with LED lighting, three new fast fill dispensers and 40 additional time fill stations for KCSOS’s school buses. In addition, the new compressors operate independently so if one compressor experiences a malfunction the other compressor can carry the load.
“The expansion of this CNG facility will serve the entire Kern County area and help reduce mobile source emissions throughout the Valley,” stated Seyed Sadredin executive director and air pollution control officer of the Valley Air District. “We are pleased to offer this type of funding to encourage clean fuels and assist Valley agencies in making smart decisions for cleaner air.”
KCSOS officials also announced plans for phase two improvements, which will include an additional 1050 CFM compressor and valve equipment that will quickly distributes gas for even quicker fueling. A tube trailer fill station will also be built and KCSOS will purchase a trailer refueling unit, which will allow for CNG refueling at remote locations.
Fieber said that several school districts would like to take advantage of CNG buses in their fleets but are too far away from a fueling facility. The remote refueler will allow KCSOS to take the CNG station to individual districts with smaller fleets.
Phase two improvements are being funded by $1.75 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Transportation and the California Energy Commission, with an expected completion date of summer 2016.