Council approves fuel station at airport |

Council approves fuel station at airport

“You sound like you’re accepting an Academy Award,” said Mayor Brooke Laine, Tuesday night to Ken Daley.

Daley had just announced to the City Council that two vans had been delivered for the city. Why was he so enthusiastic?

The vans run on compressed natural gas, not diesel or gasoline, and are part of a long-planned effort at Lake Tahoe Basin to reduce air pollution and protect the environment.

Daley, president of Area Transit Management, then invited council members outside to check out one of the $65,000 vehicles.

After raves all around, council members went back inside and voted 5 to 0 to approve the installation of a compressed natural gas fueling station in the front parking lot of the Lake Tahoe Airport.

The two new vans up the number of compressed natural gas vehicles the city owns to five. With that number of vehicles running on compressed gas, the three others are buses, a temporary fueling station on Shop Street in use now is not adequate.

Nick Haven, a basin transportation planner, said he aims to get the station, which costs about $800,000, on the ground before winter hits.

“It is a high priority for us,” Haven said. “The existing station is getting a little overwhelmed.”

The council’s vote approved a 10-year lease for the station for Tahoe Transportation District at the airport. The city will earn 5 cents for each therm, a measurement about equal to a gallon of gasoline, sold at the pump.

The California Tahoe Conservancy, U.S. Forest Service and Tahoe Regional Planning Agency all have vehicles that run on compressed natural gas. More are expected to make the switch in the near future, Haven said.

“There really is no downside to CNG buses except us having only one fueling station,” said Chris Knight, general manager at Area Transit Management. “The biggest benefit is the emissions. They are so clean for the environment, and that’s what we need up here in the High Sierra.”

The temporary station, which has one tank and two nozzles, was installed in 1998 after President Clinton held a forum at the lake in 1997.

The new fueling station, to be funded with state and federal grant money, will have two pumps and four nozzles fed by a more efficient compression system. Better compression allows gas tanks to fill more completely and drive longer, Haven said.

The new station, which will accept credit cards and be open to the public, will be key to promoting the use of compressed natural gas in the basin. Prices per therm, a term synonymous with a gallon of gasoline, will be cheaper than regular or unleaded gas, Haven said.

— Gregory Crofton can be reached at (530) 542-8045 or

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