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Noble Energy gifts 2 CNG buses valued at $300,000 to Eaton School District

The North Weld Herald of Eaton, Colorado

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On behalf of Eaton School District, Board of Education president Tim Croissant accepted a generous gift during a program Wednesday afternoon, Oct. 14, from Noble Energy's Curtis Rueter, manager of LNG and CNG Development. The gift was two compressed natural gas (CNG) school buses, with a total value of approximately $300,000. The district purchased a third bus for approximately $150,000, as part of Noble's bus incentive program. Each of the three buses are classified as 77-passenger buses.

"Back in February of 2013, Noble began working with Eaton School District's assistant superintendent Tim Unrein," explained the district's superintendent, Dr. Randy Miller.

During the Aug. 11, 2014 meeting of the Eaton School Board of Education, Sherrie Merrow, Noble Energy's CNG advisor, along with Kristi Helzer, updated the progress being made for the donation. "After several meetings and continued correspondence we were able to order three new CNG buses this past January," said Miller. "Tim and Sherrie deserve to be recognized for all they did to receive this generous gift from Noble Energy."

The boundaries of Eaton's district encompasses 235 square miles-a fairly large area to provide transportation for its students. The district has 1,900 students, of which 776 rely on transportation to get to and from school.

"Seven routes are run each day with full size buses and one route uses an additional bus for the district's special needs students. A van is utilized for a smaller route. Last year, the district's fleet logged a total of 169,331 miles on all of their vehicles with 124,000 of those miles run in a bus," said Miller.

"The average age of the district's fleet, prior to the partnership with Noble Energy, was 11.8 years. After the purchase of three new CNG buses and retiring three older buses, which were 19, 21, and 24 years old, respectively. The new average age of the fleet has now dropped to 6.9 years," he continued. "The three retired diesel buses had anywhere from 251,000 to 303,000 on them."

One of the buses is equipped with special harnesses, a special safety feature when transporting the district's preschool students on various activities requiring transportation.

During opening remarks by Croissant, he said "This is an important partnership between the Eaton School District and Noble Energy. It's an exciting day for the district." He continued, "For Noble to step up means so much to us. The money we saved can be used toward academics rather than transportation."

Rueter said, "Noble Energy is proud with this partnership with Eaton School District. This betters children's' lives. It is a natural fit for us." He added,: Weld County's Board of Commissioners are working to build more CNG stations in the county. There are currently five. This is a 'win-win' situation, for the environment and the school district."

Rueter said compressed natural gas-powered vehicles equals clean air quality, and cheaper fuel costs than gas or diesel." He notes, "Noble uses CNG for it's own fleet and its rigs."

It is estimated these buses will save the district approximately $4,000 in fuel costs per year, or $60,000 during their estimated 15 year lifespan.

Rueter concluded, "We try to be a good neighbor. We work hard to 'earn' being a good neighbor."

Weld County Commissioners Mike Freeman and Sean Conway were among the dignitaries present. Freeman credited Curtis as being the brainchild behind the bus program. He chuckled, "The school must have one heck of a mechanic to have kept those old buses moving."

And the gift came at the most appropriate time, National School Bus Safety Week is Oct. 19-Oct. 23.



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Original Publication Date: October 22, 2015



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