by: SPOKESMAN FILE PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - A SMART CNG-fueled bus takes on its fuel at SMART headquarters on Boberg Road.The South Metro Area Regional Transit Agency (SMART) has been awarded a $60,000 competitive Oregon grant to support alternative-fueling infrastructure, the city of Wilsonville announced.

The grant comes from $4 million in federal congestion mitigation and air quality funding and is one of eight handed out by the Oregon Department of Transportation.

The SMART project, which will cost an estimated $100,000, will include installation of additional storage for compressed natural gas at city facilities, primarily the SMART headquarters on Boberg Road, which includes fueling and maintenance facilities for the agency’s bus fleet. The new storage would increase current capacity by roughly 35 percent.

In addition, equipment included in the project will eliminate a high-maintenance portion of current CNG storage and dispensing procedures.

“This grant helps the City continue diversifying our fleet and improving our fueling infrasture,” said SMART Transit Director Stephan Lashbrook. “Utilizing CNG has helped us lower fuel and maintenance costs, while reducing emissions.”

SMART currently operates two CNG buses, and plans to acquire two more CNG buses later this year. The agency has found CNG is less expensive than other fuel types, including diesel and gasoline, while CNG engines do not require additional maintenance.

Gov. John Kitzhaber’s 10-Year Energy Action Plan also calls for converting 20 percent of Oregon’s large fleets to alternative fuels in the next 10 years.

Transportation is the single largest contributor to Oregon’s greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for 37 percent of total emissions. CNG offers lower greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline or diesel.

Five other projects planned for the I-5 corridor between Portland and Sutherlin will provide CNG fueling stations for a variety of businesses. Other projects will introduce CNG infrastructure to cities that currently are without, such as Bend.

“A resilient economy is less reliant on the boom/bust cycle of a single fuel source,” ODOT Director Matt Garrett said in a press release. “Diversifying our fuel supply provides options and helps businesses and local governments save money on their fuel bills, freeing up money they can reinvest.”

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