Transportation center aids use of alternative fuels

Transportation center aids use of alternative fuels

By Julianna Parker Jones
The Norman Transcript

The Transportation Operations Center at the University of Oklahoma was celebrated as a place that makes alternative fuels available to the university and the city at its dedication Tuesday afternoon.

"Today really the official opening of this facility is just a symbol," OU President David Boren said, a symbol of the university's commitment to the environment.

The center opened last year, but Tuesday was the official ceremony in which OU and Norman personnel came together to applaud and tour the facility.

The City of Norman recently began fueling its natural gas trucks at the center located on the South Campus at 510 E. Chesapeake St. The City also will begin fueling 10 diesel fire trucks there by the end of the month, said Mike White, fleet superintendent for the City of Norman.

The City's diesel fueling station is on the North Base, and the natural gas vehicles are fueled at an Oklahoma Natural Gas facility on the north side, White said. But this south location allows city vehicles to save time and increase productivity, he said.

"It just gives us a south side location and a north side location," White said.

In addition to compressed natural gas and diesel fuels, the OU Transportation Operations Center includes E-85 and biodiesel fuels, both of which are cleaner-burning fuels than gasoline or diesel.

Tom Price Jr., senior vice president for corporate development at Chesapeake Energy, applauded the support of natural gas at OU. Price spoke at the dedication of the OU transportation facility Tuesday and said natural gas is better for the environment, but also for Oklahoma, which has an abundance of natural gas.

The transportation center also has maintenance bays for OU and CART vehicles that are so much better than the portable building the transportation center used to be housed in, Parking and Transportation Services Director Theta Dempsey said as she gave Boren and others at the dedication a tour of the new facilities.

Boren lauded the state-of-the-art building for its safety, innovation and benefit to the environment. He said the recent federal economic stimulus package will allow CART to purchase five more CNG-fueled vehicles. The award of about $1.8 million will mean all of CART's buses will be fueled by CNG or biodiesel, CART spokesman Kris Glenn said.

"The fleet continues to grow in the right direction, and in a direction that's environmentally friendly," Boren said.

The opening of the transportation center was the same afternoon as the dedication of OU Police Department building next door in honor of former OU Police Chief Joseph K. Lester, for whom the facility is named.

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