Leon County Schools and Nopetro marked the fifth anniversary of their partnership to convert a significant portion of the district’s school bus fleet to compressed natural gas Wednesday.

The move saved the district more than $1.1 million. It also reduced related vehicle emissions by 90 percent while inspiring other local entities to expand their use of CNG fuel.

School Board Chairwoman Joy Bowen hailed the benefits of the partnership during a celebration at the county’s CNG fueling station, which opened on Capital Circle Southwest in 2012. The station now serves a growing number of city, county, university and private fleet vehicles that use CNG.

Joining Bowen at the event were Leon County Schools Superintendent Rocky Hanna, Florida League of Cities President and Tallahassee Mayor Pro Tem Gil Ziffer, County Commissioner Nick Maddox, and a class of Cobb Middle School students accompanied by science teacher Gina Gass.

LCS and Nopetro also introduced educational materials to help students understand the energy that fuels their school buses. The students from the Earth Space class at Cobb’s science magnet program rode a CNG school bus to the fueling station, where they received a brief lesson in the environmental benefits of compressed natural gas as a fuel source. An informational animated video about compressed natural gas is being provided to the school district and can be viewed at www.nopetro.com.

The partnership between Leon County Schools and Nopetro was the first of its kind in Florida when it launched in 2012, and has proven beneficial for the school district and other local governments. The use of CNG is both less costly and more environmentally friendly than diesel engines, averaging about 30 percent less cost and generating 90 percent fewer emissions of nitrogen oxide.

Nopetro serves as the school district’s exclusive provider of CNG. The two have worked together as the district’s exclusive CNG provider, with nearly half the district’s buses – 94 out of 220 – being powered by CNG. Other local institutions, including Leon County, the city of Tallahassee, and Florida State University also utilize the Nopetro fueling station for their CNG vehicles. Over the course of the five years, the school district has saved more than $1.1 million through rebates and other programs, funds that can instead be used to enhance educational programs for Leon County students.

The Tallahassee fueling station was the first of a statewide network established by Nopetro, which now partners with school districts and other governmental entities to provide CNG for fleets in Central and Northeast Florida, including the Lynx transit system in the Orlando area. Nopetro is working to expand its reach throughout Florida, providing energy alternatives across the transportation sector.

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