Last Modified: Friday, July 20, 2012 7:54 PM
Lake Charles City Councilman Rodney Geyen’s suggestion that the city consider alternative fuels for public vehicles should not only be welcomed, but applauded.
And Geyen is right on the money when he recommends that the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury and Calcasieu Parish School Board be invited to those talks. In fact, an invitation should also be extended to Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso and mayors of Sulphur, Westlake, DeQuincy, Iowa and Vinton.
‘‘It would be a lot easier on all of us if we could get the Police Jury and School Board involved with us,’’ Geyen told the American Press. ‘‘Hopefully, a conclusion will be made about the savings to use compressed natural gas.’’
One issue is supply and demand, or maybe more appropriately the what comes first — the chicken or the egg dilemma.
Natural gas and propane gas are becoming more abundant. In fact, the Haynesville Shale natural gas field in northwest Louisiana is considered the largest in the nation and one of the largest in the world.
That’s not the issue. The problem to date is the scarcity of distribution pumps.
But the more public agencies that decide either to refit vehicle and busses or begin replacing their gasoline-fueled fleets with vehicles that operate on either natural or propane gas, the more inviting it will be for private sector companies to build refueling capacity.
Lafayette and Shreveport have purchased public transportation buses that run on natural gas and Lafayette is in the second year of a five-year plan to convert 100 of its public vehicles to run on compressed natural gas. Recently, the price of natural gas in Lafayette, Shreveport and Alexandria was the equivalent of $1.79 a gallon of gasoline. That’s compared to the price of gasoline that was hovering slightly above $3 a gallon.
Geyen reported that Lafayette officials say that a $25,000-a-month fuel bill for five city buses has been cut to $1,800 a month using natural gas.
Consider what the savings might eventually amount to if the School Board, which transports about half of its 32,000 students by bus to school every day, began replacing its gasoline-fueled buses with natural or propane gas-operated buses. Those savings would eventually amount to million of dollars that could be plowed back into the classroom.
This, then, is a time for serious conversations by area government leaders about the possibilities of conversion to public vehicle fleets run by either natural or propane gas and the potential savings.
This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Ken Stickney, Jim Beam, Dennis Spears, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.