Harrisburg installs natural gas pump for city vehicles

HARRISBURG (KAIT) - The City of Harrisburg is fighting high gas prices with gas!

In an attempt to save money at the tank the city has installed a compressed natural gas pump (CNG) at it's water and gas shop.

Harrisburg Mayor Randy Mills said the city is facing high fuel bills will all it's vehicles and decided to give this a try.

"Even though this has a relatively high start up cost. Over time we'll save money using natural gas as opposed to gasoline." Mills said.

It is an attempt to basically reduce the fuel budget for gas-powered vehicles. "Grant monies have all been extended there's not any available at this time. We decided, me and our city council decided this is the way we wanted to go so now is the time and this is what we are doing." Mills explained. "If it works out we may convert more. If not." He shrugged. "We will just wait and see."

The cost of the pump is around 20 thousand dollars. Harrisburg is one of the few towns that has it's own gas company. The CNG pump, is being installed at the gas department shop.

Two city trucks including a pickup from the gas/water department will be converted to CNG as well as a police car.

Mills, "See what it does, how they use their gas, the maintenance cost of it. The miles per gallon obviously and then we will look at converting more over."

Tom Dickson whose company, TRI-STATE Meter and Regulator sells the pump, says at the flip of a switch in the cab, gasoline is changed over for CNG.

Dickson, "It's all in the electronics of the engine. You are talking to the engines computer and you're trying to make sure it understands it's getting it's fuel source from a different place. The driver won't be able to tell the difference."

This pump itself is manufactured in California and although it is a high pressure pump, it's not a fast pump. Dickson refers to it as a time fill.

"It will take about 2 to 2 1/2 hours to fill up a vehicle like the pickup. As soon as you punch the green button it starts and then when it finishes filling up your tank it turns itself off." Dickson says they will basically leave the vehicles on the pump at the close of the day and let them fill at night or during the day for night time use police cars.

Filling up the tank is somewhat similar to filling up a gas tank except the tank filler extends over the top of the bed. A hose runs from the pump to a filler nozzle that clips on the fill point with a sharp click.

Although not a public station, Mayor Mills said they are looking at perhaps selling the gas to the public as a way of generating money to pay for the unit.

"If it's legal and we can do all that we need to do. Cross all the "T's" and dot all the "I's" to make sure it's totally legal, yeah we would."

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