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Plan for natural gas goes forward

Committee OKs fuel's use in city garbage trucks

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A city proposal for using compressed natural gas to fuel garbage trucks was taken off the back burner Monday when an Augusta Commission committee approved it unanimously.

Members of the engineering services committee voted to require garbage haulers to use compressed gas in their trucks and authorized Solid Waste Director Mark Johnson to seek proposals to design, build, operate and maintain a compressed natural gas fueling station.

The full commission will vote on the plan at the next regular meeting.

The gas benefits the environment, is cleaner, cheaper and it works, Johnson told the committee.

In 2009, the state Environmental Protection Division of the Department of Natural Resources recommended that Augusta be designated a non-attainment area for ozone. If that happened, vehicles would have to be inspected annually to determine whether they were emitting too many exhaust fumes. There also would be a ban on outdoor burning. The designation would hamper economic development because industries would be subject to more stringent permits.

Augusta is barely in compliance with the ground-level ozone standard of 75 parts per billion, Johnson said. Compressed natural gas reduces greenhouse gas compared to both diesel fuel and gasoline.

Mayor Deke Copenhaver said converting to compressed natural gas is something the city has to do for attainment and economic development.

"It's crucial we do it," he said. "From an air-quality standpoint, it's something we have to do."

Commissioner Jerry Brigham questioned why the board was resistant.

"We wouldn't be (resisting) if we were in non-attainment," he said.

The city would be tied into an Atlanta Gas pipeline. Initially, no methane gas from the Deans Bridge Road landfill would be used, Johnson said.

The fueling station would be designed to allow for satellite locations using tube trailers. Haulers using the gas would pay back the capital cost of the program, Johnson said. Gas sales to garbage haulers would pay for the station.

Commissioner Corey Johnson said he thought it was a good program but asked what it would mean to current haulers who might not be able to afford new trucks. Mark Johnson said the federal energy bill that goes into effect Jan. 1 allows for up to 80 percent of incremental cost of dedicated natural gas vehicles based on Gross Vehicle Weight Rating. For example, if a vehicle weighed 26,000 pounds and cost $40,000, 80 percent of that would amount to a $32,000 tax credit.

Commissioners also voted to allow Mark Johnson to negotiate with current haulers to extend their contracts through next year so there will be time to design bid packages with options.

The impact on garbage rates next year will not be known until negotiating is done, but any increase would be tied to the Consumer Price Index, he said.

In other action

Augusta Commission on Monday:

- Rolled back this year's tax rate 0.093 mill because of a slight increase in the tax digest. The owner of a $100,000 house in the county, claiming the standard $5,000 homestead exemption, will pay $4.20 less. Urban area residents will pay $6.12 less, and those in the Blythe fire district $11.31 less.

- Approved property transactions to make way for the new trade, exhibit and event center, including paying $205,000 for property owned by TV station WAGT on Reynolds Street; swapping property at 13th and Reynolds for property at Ninth and Reynolds and paying $119,500; and settling terms of a lease for Reggie's Hot Dogs on Reynolds for $32,000.

- Voted to issue a contract for design of the sheriff's office building to Clark Patterson Lee for $599,714.50. The building will be at Walton Way and Fourth Street behind the Red Lobster.

- Authorized R.J. Griffin to award a $4.3 million bid package which includes demolition, site clearing and grading underground utilities, foundations and precast concrete for the new Reynolds Street parking deck.

- Approved the renewal of the Augusta Convention and Visitors Bureau professional services agreement with the city.

- Approved the third amendment to the lease between the city and Augusta Professional Baseball LLC, reimbursing the Green Jackets $100,000 for repairs to the baseball stadium.

- Approved a lease renewal between the city and the CSRA Humane Society for use of the old city stockade for $1.

Comments (21) Add comment
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Chillen
17
Points
Chillen 08/09/10 - 12:48 pm
0
0
At least this one doesn't

At least this one doesn't appear politically motivated (ron cough-cough cross.

Don't spend it all in one place!

baronvonreich
1
Points
baronvonreich 08/09/10 - 12:49 pm
0
0
I hope everybody thanks

I hope everybody thanks countyman for their tax cut. I'm sure his cheerleading has helped grow the RC taxbase so much as to allow you these $4 and $6 rebates.

Chillen
17
Points
Chillen 08/09/10 - 12:53 pm
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Baron, here's a completely

Baron, here's a completely unrelated article to this one that reminded me of some of your topics.

http://townhall.com/columnists/JimPowell/2010/08/08/what_would_it_take_t...

countyman
21682
Points
countyman 08/09/10 - 12:54 pm
0
0
This is the 3rd time RC has

This is the 3rd time RC has rolled back taxes since 7/20/10....

baronvonreich
1
Points
baronvonreich 08/09/10 - 01:14 pm
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Yes Chillen I read that. Jim

Yes Chillen I read that. Jim Powell is right on the money and I couldn't have said it better myself though I have said much of the same things several times on here. The inevitable is coming and the longer it is stalled until it is dealt with will only make the pain more acute, but then again Americans have turned into a greedy society and procrastion is rampant due to self-servitude.

America can invoke elementary aspects of social Darwinsim at a trickle's pace or China will eventually mandate it upon us like a flood.

Little Lamb
49246
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Little Lamb 08/09/10 - 01:21 pm
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0
Chillen wrote: At least this

Chillen wrote:

At least this one doesn't appear politically motivated (à la Ron (cough-cough) Cross). Don't spend it all in one place!

What do you mean not politically motivated? Both Deke Copenhaver and Corey Johnson have strong challengers in November. Otherwise there would have been no rollback, small as it is.

Chillen
17
Points
Chillen 08/09/10 - 01:31 pm
0
0
Well Little Lamb, that makes

Well Little Lamb, that makes me sad. And I thought they were just looking out for the homeowners. Must politics always get in the way?! Never mind, I know the answer to that.....

Chillen
17
Points
Chillen 08/09/10 - 01:34 pm
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Baron. The article is

Baron. The article is frightening. What we have simply is not working.

disssman
6
Points
disssman 08/09/10 - 02:09 pm
0
0
Why a difference in rates

Why a difference in rates between urban and the rest of the county? I know it isn't much, but why? And here I thought we were a consolidated city / county. I guess we are still bailing out the "stakeholders" who own property in the city.

disssman
6
Points
disssman 08/09/10 - 02:11 pm
0
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Sorry folks on second thought

Sorry folks on second thought I figured out why the rate difference. It is because urban commissioners are actually smarter than their counterparts. Sorry for the question.

dichotomy
37614
Points
dichotomy 08/10/10 - 06:44 am
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countyman....."This is the

countyman....."This is the 3rd time RC has rolled back taxes since 7/20/10". Yeh, but they have raised our property VALUATIONS 3 out of the last 4 years and took $25 to $40 a whack and they raised our garbage fees w/county kickback for the last 2 years. And they did that all while the housing market was crashing, the values of ALL homes is down 30%, and the price of diesel and labor for the trash man is DOWN. So don't give me this crap about them rolling back taxes because that is just another politician's lie. If they had EVER rolled back taxes, then my AMOUNT DUE would be less and THAT AIN'T EVER HAPPENED and it AIN'T HAPPENING THIS YEAR. You can roll the millage rate back 99.999% but if you raise my PROPERTY VALUATION high enough my taxes will still go up. It is an unfair DOUBLE JEOPARDY system that needs to be done away with, particulary for those SOUTH OF SPIRIT CREEK on all of this empty, high dollar, never to be developed RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY that your bogus TAX ASSESSOR loves so well. In an election year they all let the TAX ASSESSOR do the dirty work and the politicians come along and give you a $4 break. BIG DEAL you crooks. You raised my garbage fees $20 and raised the valuation on my house another $25000 so you might as well have kept the stinking $4.

seenitB4
98472
Points
seenitB4 08/09/10 - 02:56 pm
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0
dichotomy...why don't you

dichotomy...why don't you tell him how you really feel... ;o)

humbleopinion
1
Points
humbleopinion 08/09/10 - 10:44 pm
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0
Dichotomy, well said. They

Dichotomy, well said. They have raised the garbage collection fees and now say they are going to reduce services. The ONLY thing that government has ever done right is to run the military....and that is because it is mostly managed by the military and NOT politicians. The post office totally sucks. Social "Security" is broke with no end in sight to their losses. Medicare / Medicaid is a joke. November is the time to bring "change" to America for the better! ELECT CONSERVATIVES who will bring back fiscal responsibility to government!!!!!!

ripjones
2
Points
ripjones 08/10/10 - 06:52 am
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0
Okay, how about we get back

Okay, how about we get back on topic, based upon this article. The next two steps I want to see are, since you've mandated CNG for garbage haulers, make it also mandatory for the buses -- Atlanta has done it; and make CNG available to the public. Then I can buy a Civic CNG. Sounds like the Pickens Plan is getting off the ground, here in Augusta !!

Little Lamb
49246
Points
Little Lamb 08/10/10 - 07:11 am
0
0
This statement by Solid Waste

This statement by Solid Waste Director Mark Johnson is patently false:

Haulers using the gas would pay back the capital cost of the program.

Garbage haulers pay nothing. They are middlemen who pass along their costs of doing business to the end consumer; and that is you and I.

Little Lamb
49246
Points
Little Lamb 08/10/10 - 07:14 am
0
0
If natural gas were a viable

If natural gas were a viable fuel for large trucks, Atlanta Gas Light would have already set up fueling stations in Augusta and elsewhere. That they haven't shows that the fuel is more costly than diesel on a $ per mile basis. The only way natural gas works is when government uses its coercive power to force its use. Hence, Mark Johnson's insistence that garbage haulers doing business with the city must purchase the gas. That higher cost gets passed along to those of us who pay for garbage pickup in our Augusta tax bill.

dichotomy
37614
Points
dichotomy 08/10/10 - 08:51 am
0
0
Don't take this tirade the

Don't take this tirade the wrong way. I am in favor of natural gas garbage trucks......as long as the economics make sense and the garbage operator decides to do it as a normal part of replacing their fleet at no ADDITIONAL cost to the homeowners. And if the contractor buys the natural gas on the open market at COMPETITIVE rates. But now our commissioners, these idiots who have no idea of what they are doing, are forcing the garbage collectors to go to natural gas which the county will sell and distribute! Do any of you think our county is smart enough to manage that operation? These people could not run a company picnic. But they are not worried because "The impact on garbage rates next year will not be known until negotiating is done, but any increase would be tied to the Consumer Price Index, he said." That means, no matter what it costs we can always hit the taxpayers on the head a little harder. What they fail to tell you is that the Consumer Price Index was actually DOWN -.4% for 2009 BUT your garbage fees WERE RAISED ANYWAY. Did retirees and Social Security recipients get a Cost of Living Increase..........NO. Why, because there was NO INCREASE. So why did the garbage contractors get a homeowner funded increase? And the price of fuel, which is not calculated in the CPI but which is one of the largest expenses to the garbage service operator, was also DOWN. But now the HOMEOWNERS will pay much HIGHER garbage rates to SUBSIDIZE "economic development" for Laney Walker and Reynolds St., as usual because that is where the money always goes, and we will be SUBSIDIZING the county's NATURAL GAS RETAIL OPERATION so they can ALSO MAKE A PROFIT SELLING NATURAL GAS TO THE GARBAGE CONTRACTORS. The county already gets a kickback out of the garbage fees and now they want to make a profit selling natural gas and WE will be paying for ALL OF IT because the cost of all of this will be paid by the homeowners, not the contractor. YOUR MANDATORY GARBAGE COLLECTION FEES WILL EXCEED YOUR PROPERTY TAXES IN A FEW YEARS. I told the south Augusta residents that this would happen at a public meeting back when they were getting ready to shove this down our throats. I stood up and told the commissioners, the three that attended, that we did not trust them to run a garbage service in an economical and efficient manner once they eliminated the competition. And I told them that the costs to the homeowner would spiral out of control. The county garbage service is NOTHING BUT A CASH COW FOR the local government. And this natural gas plan is going to cost the homeowners a TON OF MONEY and may well put many into a tax lien situation. Why? Because our greedy commissioners put the fees on our tax bills and made the service mandatory so they could get their kickback. IT'S OUR COMMISSIONERS VERSION OF OBAMACARE. MAKE IT MANDATORY AND PUT IT ON THE TAX BILL. They knew from the start that the cost of the service would be exorbitant and that they could not compete with PRIVATE service rates. They've got you by the gonads homeowners and you are fixin' to take it in the shorts on this homeowner funded natural gas monopoly fiasco. When the local government starts building an empire it is time for the peons to revolt. What say you avid mandatory forced trash collection supporter Austin Rhodes? Did you tell your audience that one day soon their TRASH COLLECTION FEES WOULD EQUAL THEIR PROPERTY TAX when you were helping shove this crap down the south Richmond county homeowners throats? Did you tell them that the CPI provision of the contract apparently allows raises in years when the CPI is actually NEGATIVE? Did you tell them that when the inflation kicks in from all of this crazy federal government spending that their garbage rates could start going up $30, $40, or $50 a year. And does anybody think that converting the garbage trucks to natural gas is going to make a tinker's damn difference in the local air quality with all of those factories out on 56 and over in east Augusta spewing tons of particulates into the air 24 hours a day? Not a chance. The EPA will change our status no matter what and not only will you be stuck paying for the RC Natural Gas Company, you will also get stuck with the additonal expenses associated with vehicle inspections and all of the other crap that goes along with the change in EPA status.

ripjones
2
Points
ripjones 08/10/10 - 09:00 am
0
0
Sorry, Atlanta Gas Light

Sorry, Atlanta Gas Light won't be the one -- they do not sell gas, only infrastructure. This will have to be a commercial venture. MARTA in Atlanta has decided that CNG is a viable fuel for their buses, and it helps their ozone problem. My first thought was that it would have to be a Truck Stop company, who would already have the infrastructure in place. There is one commercial CNG dealer in Atlanta. Will have to do some further checking on the actual comparison to diesel.

joebowles
104
Points
joebowles 08/10/10 - 01:31 pm
0
0
As we replace buses, they

As we replace buses, they will (better) be CNG!!!

Little Lamb
49246
Points
Little Lamb 08/10/10 - 01:54 pm
0
0
From the article above: The

From the article above:

The city would be tied into an Atlanta Gas pipeline. Initially, no methane gas from the Deans Bridge Road landfill would be used, Johnson said.

May I ask, “Why not?”

denzel
0
Points
denzel 08/15/10 - 03:28 pm
0
0
Can Someone please explain to

Can Someone please explain to me what is this article about i have read this over and over again an i cant quite understand whats its talking ,because i need to know what it is about because i have to do a current event on this can someone please help me out........

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