Waste hauler steps closer to natural gas filling station


Representative Keith Perry, accompanied Wednesday by, left to right, Starke Mayor Travis Woods, Gainesville Mayor Ed Braddy, Gainesville City Commissioner Susan Bottcher, WCA Waste Corp. Regional Marketing Director Brad Avery, and regional vice president of WCA, Bob Shires, celebrates the groundbreaking of the first publicly accessible compressed natural gas fueling station that will be used by WCA's fleet of garbage trucks and open to the public at the Chevron near Williston Road and Interstate 75.

Erica Brough/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Wednesday, August 14, 2013 at 2:37 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, August 14, 2013 at 2:37 p.m.

Waste hauler WCA expects to convert its vehicle fleet from diesel to cleaner-burning, more fuel-efficient compressed natural gas within months.

On Wednesday, company officials had a ceremonial groundbreaking for a new fueling station that they expect to be built and in operation by October.

Under agreements with Gainesville and Alachua County government, WCA will also open a compressed natural gas fueling station for the public at the Lewis Oil Chevron station at Williston Road and Interstate 75. It will be the first publicly accessible compressed natural gas fueling station along the I-75 corridor, officials said.

WCA has the residential trash-hauling routes for both the city and county. The City Commission and County Commission both approved no-bid five-year contract extensions with WCA on the condition that the company convert its fleet and open the public fueling station. The contracts allowed for such an extension.

The agreement between Gainesville and WCA also calls for the company to annex its facility on the 5000 block of Southwest 41st Boulevard.

The contingent of local government officials at Wednesday's event included Gainesville Mayor Ed Braddy and Commissioner Susan Bottcher. State Rep. Keith Perry, R- Gainesville, also attended.

In brief comments to the small crowd gathered, Perry praised the move to a cheaper, cleaner fuel produced in the United States.

Braddy said the move would provide a welcome "shot in the arm" to the revenues of Gainesville Regional Utilities, which will provide natural gas to the fueling stations.

Bottcher said the collaboration between the company and local government showed a "fresh approach to alternative fuel sources."

Bob Shires, the regional vice president for WCA, said the Houston-based company has plans to convert 80 percent of its fleet to compressed natural gas in five years.

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