Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

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June 9, 2014

City of Somerset getting into gas business

SOMERSET — A Somerset city official said the city, in an effort to stabilize gasoline prices, will start selling regular-grade gasoline at its fuel center on Chappells Dairy Road in about two weeks.

“All the equipment has been on order for about six weeks,” said George Wilson, economic development business coordinator for Somerset. He estimated it will take three or four days to install the equipment after it arrives.

Somerset is getting into the gasoline business because of city officials’ disagreement with private distributors about pricing. City counsel members claim Somerset is an island of high gasoline prices, often 20 to 30 cents more than in neighboring towns and across the state. Wilson said people get angry when they find lower gasoline prices in nearby towns.

“We will have 10 different nozzles (pumps) in a kiosk,” said Wilson. “An attendant will be on duty, probably from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., maybe later, to allow customers to pay by cash or credit card. Gasoline will be available at the pumps 24 hours a day, seven days a week, using credit cards, he noted.

Only regular (87 octane) gasoline will be sold,” Wilson said. The city will purchase gasoline from Continental Refining Company, the former Somerset Refinery. “The refinery is local ... it hires nearly 50 people.”

“Somerset won’t sell cigarettes or anything else, only regular gasoline, at the kiosk,” said Wilson.

Price of gasoline at city pumps will be determined by a regional average; an average of gasoline prices in cities within a 50-mile radius of Somerset, Wilson said.

City of Somerset Fuel Center is located off Clifty Road at 244 Chappells Dairy Road. The fuel center is a newly painted, sparkling fuel storage area. It is the former American Pride bulk plant purchased by the city for $300,000.

City engineer Reggie Chaney said the plant can store 40,000 gallons of gasoline, 40,000 gallons of diesel and 20,000 gallons of off-road diesel.

The fuel center is headquarters for the city’s compressed natural gas operation. Somerset is converting its entire city-owned fleet from gasoline to natural gas. The center was first in Kentucky to install pumps and equipment to fuel private vehicles powered by compressed natural gas.

BILL MARDIS is a editor emeritus of the Commonwealth Journal. He can be reached at bmardis@somerset-kentucky.com

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