Dublin City Council gave the city's service department the go-ahead this week on a $3.7-million project that would allow some city vehicles to use compressed natural gas.

Dublin City Council gave the city's service department the go-ahead this week on a $3.7-million project that would allow some city vehicles to use compressed natural gas.

Council members unanimously agreed Aug. 23 to let the city enter into a grant agreement with Clean Fuels Ohio for about $1.5-million in reimbursements for a project that would give Dublin 44 compressed-natural-gas vehicles and a fueling station.

According to Ron Burns, director of streets and utilities, Dublin was "one of 21 around the state to apply for this" partnership with Clean Fuels Ohio; the effort was to go after $30-million in funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to put cleaner-burning fuels into use.

Burns said the city would purchase 44 CNG-burning vehicles that are on the current replacement schedule and make modifications to some of the current vehicles; the step is expected to be completed by next spring and cost about $1.5-million.

Plans also include modifying the fueling facility at Shier Rings Road to dispense CNG, Burns said. This portion of the project is expected to be completed by next August.

Though the city will receive $1.5-million in grant money from Clean Fuels Ohio, $275,000 in funds will come from IGS Energy, which has partnered with Dublin on the project.

"Compressed natural gas is a very safe, abundant and clean-burning fuel," IGS Energy communications director Mark McHale said.

CNG will give the city 25 to 30 percent fewer emissions than gasoline, Burns said, and the conversion to CNG will save the city money. Dublin expects to see $20,000 in fuel savings in the first year.

The CNG-burning vehicles also are expected to required less maintenance, Burns said.

"While it will noticeably pay off in environmental terms, there's really an economic advantage to this," Clean Fuels Ohio executive director Sam Spofforth said.

Locally, other organizations and private businesses have joined the partnership, and Spofforth said Dublin's project is the second-biggest in central Ohio, behind Columbus.

According to information from Spofforth, Columbus also plans to include the installation of a CNG fueling station, six CNG-burning service vehicles and five hybrid electric vehicles. Columbus' project is expected to cost $4.4-million.

Dublin could share CNG fueling capabilities when the project is completed.

"Our vision and plan for this is to have limited public access," Burns said, noting that Dublin City Schools could purchase CNG-burning buses that could fuel up at the new station on Shier Rings Road.

Private businesses also will be able to apply for fueling rights. Burns said if a company were to convert a few vans to CNG, it could request to fuel at the city's station.

"We're open to requests," he said.