Toccoa Continues To Look at Converting Vehicles to Natural Gas

The city of Toccoa continues to look at the idea of converting at least some of its vehicles to running off of compressed natural gas.

During a Monday work session, the city commission heard a presentation on the topic from CNG Technology Systems of Atlanta.

Toccoa City Manager Mike Jackson has proposed spending $54,800 to put in the necessary fueling equipment and convert five city vehicles to have the ability to run off of natural gas.

Jackson said this would serve as a trial run to see if it works.

“Let’s make sure that we can convince ourselves this is a good thing to do,” said Jackson.

If that works in saving the city money on fuel costs, Jackson said he would like to expand the effort.

“If the test turns out the way we think it can and we see that there are some very significant fuel savings, then we go to step two,” said Jackson. “That is that we convert as much of the city of Toccoa fleet as is practical.”

City officials also noted that if it is something that works for the city of Toccoa, it might be something other cities are interested in looking at along the Toccoa Natural Gas system.

Rob Hogan with CNG Technology Systems said that compressed natural gas has multiple benefits over traditional fuels, like gasoline or diesel.

“It saves in fueling expense,” said Hogan, who also said it puts out less pollution.

Toccoa Mayor David Austin also noted that it would be good public relations for Toccoa Natural Gas if the city ran vehicles off of compressed natural gas.

Toccoa Vice-Mayor Andy Pavliscsak asked what has changed since a number of years ago when the city tried a similar program and decided not to pursue it further.

Hogan said the technology has improved, which has improved the vehicle performance.

It was noted that to put in a system that would fuel an entire city fleet, the city would need to spend more money on a more advanced fueling system, potentially $250,000, in addition to the cost of converting the vehicles.

Pavliscsak said he feels the city is going to have to expand the program in order to save money.

“The way for us to really save money is to really convert more vehicles,” said Pavliscsak, who said five might not show enough of a savings.

“If we convert 50 vehicles, we are saving money,” said Pavliscsak.

Jackson said that is true, but that the trial would allow the city to have data in hand to see if the savings merit looking further at the expense.

The city commission asked Jackson to continue to gather more information on the issue and report back to the commission.