By JENSEN WERLEY
Jacksonville Business Journal

With a unanimous vote from the St. Johns County Board of Comissioners, plans for the new CNG fueling station in the county is ready to go.

“We can now begin the full-fledged design process,” said Jorge Herrera, CEO of Nopetro, the company designing and building the facility. “We’ll be up and running in the next 12 months.”

In a public-private partnership, Nopetro is handling the capital investments for the facility, which should cost about $3 million. Over the next 20 years, the company will make its money back, while the county commits to using the facility. It will also be open for use by other Nopetro customers and the public.

“Our M.O. is a P3 model,” Herrera said, whose company has similar partnerships across the state. “We operate and maintain, our government agency partner utilizes the station for their needs, and we design it so third parties [can use it].”

The company has had great success in other counties and cities in Florida. Nopetro has also worked with Leon County, Tallahassee and Charlotte County Public Schools and is seeking similar public-private partnerships with Miami-Dade County and LYNX.

The presence across the state is all part of the company’s future goals.

“Our overarching vision is the development of a network in Florida,” Herrera said. He said Nopetro has been strategically expanding to other locations that are nodes in their larger network. With one in northeast Florida, heavy duty trucks can now fill up with natural gas at their stations across the state.

“We’re permitting a larger group of customers to more readily access [gas in the] state.”

With its multiple locations, Jacksonville and Duval County are both possibilities for another location.

“We’re looking at different sites there as well,” Herrera said. “With the St. Johns County addition, we have a good footprint in Northeast Florida. There are a few potential parcels in the Jacksonville and Duval area we have an eye on. It’s a work in progress.”

Cities and counties across the state have been taking steps to transition fleets — waste management trucks, school buses, public buses — to run on natural gas. Herrera said St. Johns County is an early adopter.

“The entire state is making the transition,” he said. “It’s exciting to see St. Johns at the forefront of the pack.”