New North Augusta bus runs on hydrogen fuel cells

January 6, 2014

North Augusta residents will soon see a brand new City vehicle roaming through the streets of Martintown Road, Georgia Avenue and more.

In the next of a line of City improvements, North Augusta has acquired a hydrogen fuel cell-powered bus. The clean technology bus’ only emission is water vapor, according to City Administrator Todd Glover.

“The Aiken-Edgefield Economic Development Partnership has been for many years touting and exhibiting the virtues of hydrogen fuel cell technology,” Glover said. “The hydrogen fueling station at the Sage Mill Industrial Park led to several of the tenants in the park to convert their fork lift fleets to hydrogen fuel cells. Also, EDP, in conjunction with Aiken County constructed the Center for Hydrogen Research, now the Applied Research Center, to explore alternative fuel research and testing. With these initiatives, Aiken County is considered a world leader in the field of Hydrogen fuel cell technology.”

The reason for the county being a world leader is thanks to the EDP according to Glover. He said Fred Humes, with the EDP, contacted the City about partnering to obtain the bus and showcase the technology after they came off a grand made available to local governments. The bus carries a $50,000 price tag, though the value of the bus is more than $650,000, and is split between the two agencies. Glover said North Augusta’s application was approved in a “competitive process over many local governments throughout the country.”

Though North Augusta does not have a specific green initiative, the City has been working on ways to be more environmentally friendly.

“The City has been working through James Sutton, the Director of Public Services, to increase our recycling program and offering environmental education programs at Brick Pond Park,” Glover said. “An exhibition of this technology seemed to fit in with several of our initiatives and could also be utilized with the many school groups who visit the Arts and Heritage Center and Brick Pond Park.”

The bus could also be a factor for Project Jackson, according to Glover.

“Throughout the planning for Project Jackson, one of the plans to help manage traffic in the development and to help downtown business by allowing patrons to park in the central business district, was a trolley system,” he said. “At the time the bus presented itself, the TIF has not been approved but because of the value of the bus, the City felt we could dispose of the bus, even at a profit, if our plans did not come to fruition. In the meantime, EDP and the City have plans to utilize the bus through downtown events, the Nike Peach Jam, and even showcasing Sage Mill Industrial Park to potential industrial tenants.”

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