M.U.D.'s natural gas vehicles
An important fuel of the future is on its way to the Omaha area, thanks to the efforts of the Metropolitan Utilities District.
A $2.3 million federal grant won by the utility will allow it to construct two compressed natural gas filling stations for public use.
Natural gas is a practical, less polluting and cheaper way to power vehicles if there are places where drivers can fuel up. That has been a major stumbling block in the move to alternative-fuel cars and trucks, a Catch-22: Until enough cars use an alternative fuel, service stations would not sell it. And until service stations sell it, few people would buy alternative-fuel vehicles.
M.U.D.'s new filling stations will solve at least part of that problem. With two stations open for business in metropolitan Omaha, drivers of natural gas cars will be able to get fuel when they need it. NG vehicles are specially constructed to use the fuel safely.
So far, M.U.D. has 65 natural gas vehicles in operation, about 25 percent of its fleet. During the past 10 years, its NG cars and trucks have prevented 2.6 million pounds of carbon dioxide pollution from entering the atmosphere and averted the need for more than 28,000 barrels of oil, the utility reported.
The grant money also will buy 96 NG vehicles, some going to M.U.D. and others to Metro Community College, Happy Cab and other organizations. And it will allow M.U.D. to finance a private fueling station for local businesses and political subdivisions.
M.U.D. is taking a leading role in bringing natural gas-powered vehicles to the Midlands. While the fuel is nonrenewable, it is abundant and relatively cheap.
Earlier this year, when gasoline was selling for about $2 a gallon, the equivalent amount of natural gas was 99 cents, or 49 cents after a federal subsidy.
Opening up the use of natural gas for more Midlanders' cars can serve drivers and the energy economy well as the nation transitions to more renewable sources of horsepower.
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