Thursday, October 9, 2014

Calcasieu school board pursuing alternative fuels

CALCASIEU PARISH, LA (KPLC) -Gas prices have dropped but still average over $3.00 per gallon. Now, the City of Lake Charles hopes a new partnership will propel alternative fuel as a more viable option.

The city is pursuing options like propane and natural gas, but they need more partners in terms of volume to make it worthwhile. 

That changed at Tuesday's Calcasieu Parish School Board meeting, when board members approved a resolution to pursue alternative fuel options like propane and natural gas. 

"The action of the school board last night was merely a statement that yes we're willing to participate," said Lake Charles Mayor Randy Roach. 

Roach says the primary reason the city reached out to the school board was because of the number of school buses they have.

"Having the school board involved and working with us to develop an alternative fuel program and being able to look at their fleet of school buses as a potential fleet of vehicles that could be used for alternative fuel purposes certainly makes it a little bit more cost-efficient," explained Roach.

School board officials say they have about 400 buses in their fleet. Most of them use diesel fuel or regular gasoline.

But whether the fleet will be converted to propane or natural gas is yet to be determined.

"Both of them are being considered," said Roach.

However those buses won't be guinea pigs. The city has already adopted a few propane-run pickup trucks as well as lawnmowers.

While the city has their own propane fueling site, it's not open to the public. In fact, Mayor Roach says there's a big void in Southwest Louisiana, which has to change.

"In order for the private sector or the public sector to effectively use alternative fuels, they have to be able to get it. And the only place they can get it is at a fueling station," added Roach.

For now, Roach says they're in the early stages of planning, "What that program is going to be, how it's going to be set up, where the fueling stations are actually going to be located all of that still has to be determined."

While details are forthcoming, Mayor Roach says what is known at this point are the groups that have agreed to work together, which includes the City of Lake Charles, City of Sulphur, Calcasieu Parish, and now, the Calcasieu Parish School Board. See original article and video here.

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