An alternative fueling facility that has been on Naperville's wish list for several years could be coming through a land lease with a company that plans to build such a station near the city's Test Track.
The city council is set to consider a 10-year land lease with Trillium, a part of the Love's Travel Stops company that provides alternative fuels, during a meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the municipal center, 400 S. Eagle St.
Under the lease, Trillium would pay $1,500 a month for use of 1 acre at the northeast corner of the Test Track property at 1720 W. Jefferson Ave. On that site, the company would build, operate and maintain a compressed natural gas fueling station that would be open to the public 24 hours. The city could use the station to fuel vehicles it could convert to run on compressed natural gas, often abbreviated as CNG.
The city initially planned to build a CNG station itself at a cost of roughly $2 million. Officials even borrowed money for the station and other projects in 2014.
But Dick Dublinski, public works director, said he realized there needed to be another option for construction.
"Frankly, the cost of building a fueling station outweighed the advantages of converting our vehicles and using CNG as a fuel," he said.
That's why the city sought proposals in 2015 from companies that could build a station and identified Trillium as a potential partner in 2016.
"The ability for the city to have an alternative fueling site built without taxpayer money where the city's fleet could take advantage of the steady low price of CNG is an economic success story," Dublinski said.
There are ecological upsides to this fuel, too, which some fleet operators across the region have been realizing for much of the past decade. CNG emits fewer greenhouse gases and is available through the same pipelines that deliver natural gas to homes and businesses.
"Helping to reduce the carbon footprint by using CNG over unleaded or diesel fuels is important on a sustainability front," Dublinski said.
When the city found Trillium as a station construction partner, the company wanted the city to commit to use a minimum of fuel to ensure the station would be financially feasible. The city instead sought other companies to make that commitment and found waste hauler Groot and concrete company Ozinga willing to sign on for 10 years.
While the city doesn't have to buy a certain amount of fuel, Dublinski said he hopes to negotiate a "long-term price commitment" soon. The fuel sells now at nearby stations for $2.32 per gasoline gallon equivalent in Downers Grove and $2.54 in Wheeling.
The city's proposed lease with Trillium would require the company to build the station under the terms of a $300,000 grant from Drive Clean Chicago, meaning the facility would need to be operational by July 30, 2019.
If the city council approves the lease Wednesday, Dublinski said the company has assured the city it would be ready to start construction in the spring and finish before the deadline.
Trillium media relations did not respond to a request for comment.
The city then will consider which vehicles to convert to run on CNG fuel. Dublinski said more than 50 vehicles in the city's fleet of 580 have the capability to be converted.