GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Plans are already underway to build natural gas fueling stations in Mississippi. A Florida-based waste disposal company has committed $100 million to convert its fleet from diesel to CNG fuel and to construct fueling facilities throughout the South, including locations in Jackson and Harrison counties.
And Waste Pro USA isn't the only one looking to make alternative fuel more accessible to South Mississippians.
Skyrocketing gas price drove the Coast Transit Authority to look for fuel alternatives for some of its buses. After seeing a 25 percent savings, CTA officials wanted the same relief for Coast residents in their personal cars.
"The biggest deterrent to people using alternative fuel is fuel infrastructure," said Director Kevin Coggin. "I think the Governor and the Coast legislators should be commended for supporting creation of alternative fuel infrastructure. We are looking at a program that is similar to what's being proposed except we're looking at hydrogen fuel. We would use hydrogen fuel cell busses, promote the use of hydrogen fuel for others and provide hydrogen fuel for others."
CTA wants to build hydrogen fuel cell fueling stations but first it has to sell the idea to the federal government. Next month, the agency will apply for a $6.2 million federal grant to match a $1.25 million grant pledged by a private company named Renewable Opportunities Inc.
"Hydrogen fuel cell is a hydroelectric vehicle. The electricity is generated chemically as opposed to mechanically," Coggin said. "I is a zero emission fuel. It's less emission than CNG is and we have a private developer interested in putting up the local match and some operating money for our program which means it will be a private-public partnership."
CTA officials said the option fill up alternative fuels shouldn't be limited to just a few.
"We have an abundance of all of those resources in our community and in our country," Coggin said. "It makes us less dependant on foreign oil and those influences that go with it. It's good for the environment and it saves a lot of money in operating costs in the long run."
CTA hopes to build two fueling stations, one at the headquarters on Debuys Road and the other next to the Ocean Expo in D'Iberville near I-10 and I-110.