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INL revamps bus fleet

INL revamps bus fleet

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho - The Idaho National Lab has found a cheaper way to fuel its bus fleet -- which could mean big savings on fuel prices for everyday drivers.

The INL bus fleet took a step forward into the future at the new Blu natural gas station with a ribbon-cutting Thursday. Blu's executive vice president of sales and marketing, Richard Peterson, said the fuel is just the beginning of a revolution here in the U.S.

"We've got an opportunity to use this abundant American fuel and become less dependent on imported crude oil," he said.

Experts say a great deal of natural gas is found in Idaho, which is a fact that Blu is using to its advantage.

"We're building the infrastructure throughout the United States so that transportation fleets, those that embrace us, can have a place to fuel their trucks and their buses," said Peterson.

Blu is not the only company benefiting from Idaho's resources. The INL's Mission Support Services director, Scott Wold, said the lab hopes to save a ton of money in fuel costs.

"If we are successful in converting all of our buses, we could more than halve our current petroleum use out at the lab," said Wold.

With a large amount of savings, it wouldn't be long before other companies follow suit, which doesn't leave clean energy coalitions, like Yellowstone-Teton Clean Energy, far behind. The executive director, Phil Cameron, said his organization is excited about the push toward natural gas.

"I think a lot of businesses and fleets within the community will be able to benefit from the lower costs of the fuel that's being provided at this station," he said.

If everyone is on board and the fuel is better for the economy, saving tax dollars, why not release it to the public for natural gas cars? Maybe even remove the need for gasoline altogether?

"I think natural gas is going to play an important role in how we fuel our vehicles across the U.S. I think it's going to be an increasing segment of our fueling systems," said Cameron.

Experts say this would give a new meaning to "made in the USA."

"We could then use energy that's produced in the United States to power the United States," said Cameron.

Right now, the buses cannot operate with natural gas alone; it's blended with bio-diesel. But the INL said soon its buses will operate on 100 percent natural gas.

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