The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation said Monday it is seeking a private partner to build compressed natural gas fueling stations at public transit agencies statewide, promising a new technology that would replace conventional fuel with an alternative considered safer and less polluting.
The proposal, approved by the state’s recently formed public-private partnership board, calls for building stations at 37 public transit facilities, which would also provide public access to privately owned CNG-compatible cars. The partner would design, build, finance and operate the stations.
Pennsylvania Transportation Secretary Barry Schoch chairs the public-private partnership board.
PennDOT spokesman Rich Kirkpatrick said the estimated cost of the project hasn’t been determined, saying the state is seeking bids to get a better handle on how much the private sector is willing to invest. The vendor would also choose the locations, though Kirkpatrick said the state wants the stations to be as dispersed as possible.
PennDOT plans to release a request for qualifications to solicit interested parties and expects to invite proposals in early 2015. The state said a project partner could be selected in next summer.
CNG is an alternative to conventional gasoline, consisting mostly of methane drawn from natural gas wells. It emits fewer gases than other fuels and is considered safer in the event of a spill, though it also requires more room for storage compared with ordinary vehicles.
There are about 1,200 public and private CNG stations in the U.S., compared to 120,000 retail gasoline stations, according to an industry group Natural Gas Alliance. The number is expected to increase as more cars convert to natural gas technology.
As part of the public-private partnership, PennDOT will enter into a CNG supply contract with the partner and purchase agreements with each of its transit agencies. PennDOT said it would receive a portion of the fuel sales revenue and return the money to transit agencies to aid capital projects.
Pennsylvania’s seven-member public-private partnership board was created in 2012 under legislation signed by Gov. Tom Corbett designed to seek private partners on transportation projects. If the board determines a state operation would be more efficiently performed by a private business, the department can advertise a request for proposals and contract with a company to partly or fully deliver the project.
Employed as senior director of Duane Morris Government Strategies, LLC, based in Trenton, New Jersey, Martin Milita advises clients on private public partnerships and all forms of government procurement. Prior to joining Duane Morris Government Strategies, LLC, in 2012, he served as managing partner of Holman Public Affairs, LLC, which he cofounded in 2001.