Huntington Beach Union High School District unveils new fast filling natural gas station

March 9, 2018. The Huntington Beach Union High School District unveiled a new compressed natural gas (CNG) station that can refuel up to 30 school buses overnight and fast-fill buses that require immediate fueling.

   The district celebrated the $2.1-million station near Huntington Beach High School with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and tour on Monday.

   The facility offers bus drivers two options for refilling, according to Jeff Hutchings, district manager of maintenance and operations. At the end of a shift, they can head to the station and connect a hose to their bus to refill it within three hours overnight. If a driver forgot to refill a bus overnight, the fast-fill unit can dispense 30 gallons in five to eight minutes, he said.

   "Before, we had a small compressor and its capabilities would stretch to the limit with nine buses," he said. "This will make life a lot easier for us knowing that when we come in, our buses are full."

   The district has 51 buses, 19 of which are powered by compressed natural gas, according to Hutchings. CNG can be used in place of gasoline, diesel fuel and propane, helping to limit carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere, according to district officials.

   School board President Bonnie Castrey said the station will save the district thousands of dollars. "Buses will use fuel more effectively for fewer dollars. We will be able to sell this natural gas to other establishments with natural gas vehicles, thereby offsetting our expenses even more and providing resources for more buses," she said.

   The district recently applied for 25 more CNG buses from the South Coast Air Quality Management District to replace more diesel-powered buses.