The City of Medicine Hat likes to plan ahead.
When the Alberta municipality chose to steer its fleet towards natural gas a few years ago, the main reasons were more predictable municipal budgets, in addition to environmental benefits for a more sustainable community.
The city has ordered a fleet of compressed natural gas (CNG) buses to be delivered over the next several years, in addition to natural gas-powered garbage trucks and a few light duty trucks.
John Komanchuk, the City of Medicine Hat’s CNG Project Manager, says tumultuous diesel prices have made municipal budget planning – a process which is done three years in advance – increasingly challenging.
“The way the price of diesel has swung over the last several years has made budgets difficult,” John says. “We anticipate more stability with CNG.”
John says that since Medicine Hat is also a natural gas utility provider for residential and commercial use, it made a lot of sense for the city to explore alternative fuel vehicles for its fleet. The city will also have its own CNG station for municipal vehicle use; its being built by Clean Energy Fuels and is expected to be completed in fall 2014.
The buses are manufactured by New Flyer Industries and the garbage trucks are from Labrie Environmental Group.
John says the process has included site development for the station, building the station itself, facility upgrades, fleet purchases and mechanic and operator training. Several mechanics are currently in the process of being certified to service the natural gas vehicles.