Natural gas powered garbage truck hit the streets of Harrisburg

HARRISBURG, AR (KAIT) - The City of Harrisburg rolled out a less expensive, more environmentally friendly version of one of its services with the purchase of a natural gas powered garbage truck, according to Harrisburg Mayor Randy Mills.


Mayor Mills says the upfront costs of a natural gas truck and installing gas pumping stations are high, but implementing the truck will save the city more money long-term.


"We did have an independent contractor pick up our solid waste up until February of this year (2013). We started February this year picking up our own garbage. We purchased cans from a company that had filed bankruptcy," he said.


One compressed natural gas pump costs about $22,000. Harrisburg has three in the city. The garbage truck costs around $190,000.


Mayor Mills says the long-term savings come from fuel costs. In February, he says the city spent about $800 less on fuel on their two-day a week runs for 932 customers.


"There's really no drawbacks to running natural gas other than the initial cost of  getting in it because there are no filling stations in Northeast Arkansas for natural gas. The closest one to here, a public filling station, is Little Rock," he said. "Diesel right now is right at $4 a gallon. So, we're saving $2.15 a gallon."


"The truck gets about the same mileage as it would if it were diesel."

Other benefits customers would notice are less noise on trash day, and lower gas emissions.   


"Natural gas is a greener burning fuel, and I know emissions is a big thing in today's world. We were told by the fellow that sold the truck to us - and it wasn't a sales pitch - we had already bought the vehicle - but he told us that we could park it inside a building and run it, and there was not enough emissions that it would actually cause enough carbon monoxide to poison the person. I'm not going to try that out, but I took his word for it."


Mayor Mills says customers will see little difference in what they are charged for the service. The independent contractor charged $14.22. The city charges $14.20.


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