Northeast Florida Roundup
New-fueled: North Florida reduces its petroleum consumption
A new report has documented dramatic growth in the use of alternative fuels by governments and businesses on the roads, on ships and by rail.
The North Florida Clean Fuels Coalition, in a report prepared by Ben Moore, a member of RS&H’s Commissioning and Energy Services Group, says that by using alternative fuels, north Florida cut its petroleum consumption by about 2 million gallons in 2014.
While propane remains the dominant alternative fuel, use of compressed and liquefied natural gas and electric vehicles continues to grow. And the use of the alternative fuels is increasing at an annual rate of more than 40% in north Florida, the report states.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuel Data Center, the number of alternative fueling locations in Florida has grown to 843.
The North Florida Transportation Planning Organization is trying to spur that growth with the help of state and federal grants. The organization’s initial investments in alternate fuels include:
$732,000 to help St. Johns County build a CNG station for the county’s fleet and a public access station.
$2.75 million to help the Jacksonville Transportation Authority build a public access compressed natural gas fueling facility. JTA intends to buy 100 buses operating on CNG fuel.
$315,000 to Jacksonville to equip seven Sanitation trucks to operate on CNG.
$300,000 for a partnership with the JEA, which will fund 25 to 30 electric vehicle charging stations.
$162,000 to JaxPort to help truck owners convert to more fuel efficient and cleaner burning fuel.
Florida East Coast Railway is also converting four locomotives to LNG, and earlier this year the Isla Bella, the world’s first ship powered by liquified natural gas, was christened in San Diego. Later this year, it will begin making trips between Jacksonville and San Juan, Puerto Rico. A second LNG ship will begin service early next year.
Jacksonville also saw the opening of its first public access CNG fueling station, opened by Trillium CNG and Champion Brands, the northeast Florida and southeast Georgia distributor of Miller, Coors and other beverages. Champion has converted 50% of its heavyduty fleet to CNG.
Ann Shortelle has been named executive director of the 18-county St. Johns River Water Management District. She was previously executive director of the neighboring Suwannee River Water Management District. She replaces Hans Tanzler, who stepped down.
Ed Lawson has been appointed CEO of the Blood Alliance in Jacksonville, replacing Valerie Collins, who died last summer. Lawson had been the agency’s COO since 2013.
Profile -- Downtown Zip Tours
Sherry Jhill has come up with a way for visitors and locals to learn about Jacksonville’s history, art and architecture as she raises money for the Jacksonville Museum and Cultural Center.
An artist and sculptor, Jhill has started Downtown Zip Tours, rolling tours of the downtown area in street-legal golf carts. The tours include visits to the murals on the Yates Building garage and the murals along Adams and Laura Streets by Shaun Thurston and views of historic downtown buildings. Each tour takes just 15 minutes, with a suggested donation of $10 to the new Jacksonville Museum and Cultural Center.
Sherry Jhill (front) started Zip Tours to spread the word about the city’s history and art.
FERNANDINA BEACH — City Manager Joe Gerrity has resigned. Gerrity says two commissioners elected last year, Robin Lentz and Tim Poytner, complained that projects were not getting done fast enough and wanted a new city manager.
GAINESVILLE — The renovation of the O’Connell Center at the University of Florida has been delayed because of cost overruns. > Three hotels with a total of 570 rooms are proposed: A 12-story Embassy Suites, a 130-room hotel near the Hilton UF Conference Center and a 250-room hotel on West University Avenue.
JACKSONVILLE — The Downtown Investment Authority has received an appraisal for the city-owned Shipyards land of $26 million. Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan has submitted a proposal to develop the property located on the north side of the St. Johns River. > A subsidiary of Anheuser-Busch, Metal Container, is seeking about $15 million in state and city incentives as part of a $170-million expansion of its Jacksonville facilities. The company would like to build a 200,000-sq.- ft. Aluminum bottle manufacturing facility that would employ 75. Anheuser-Busch already employs 700 people in Jacksonville. > Intuition Ale Works is planning to spend about $3.5 million to renovate a building near the Jacksonville sports complex for a craft brewery and tap room. > JEA’s 1960s-vintage downtown headquarters needs repairs that will cost $41 million. Demolishing the building and replacing it would cost $44 million. > Bi- Lo Holding, the parent company of Winn-Dixie, has changed its name to Southeastern Grocers, which now becomes the parent company of Bi-Lo and Winn-Dixie stores and is the fifth-largest supermarket chain in the U.S. > The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration has fined Pinnacle Roofing $154,000 following an investigation into a fatal fall of a worker through a skylight. > The Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville has released a study showing an economic impact of $2.4 billion for arts and cultural organizations in seven northeast Florida counties in 2014. Counties in the survey were Duval, Baker, Clay, Flagler, Nassau, Putnam and St. Johns.
OCALA — Washington, D. C.-based eResources is relocating its headquarters to downtown Ocala, where it plans to employ about 50.
PALATKA — The Putnam County Medical Center has been acquired by the Hospital Corporation of America. The Nashville-based medical network owns 13 hospitals and medical facilities in north Florida and 165 hospitals in the United States and England.
ST. AUGUSTINE — Workers at Northrup Grumman got a sneak peek at a new 400,000-sq.-ft. manufacturing structure at Northeast Florida Regional Airport. The company plans to add about 400 workers in the next two years, adding to the 1,000 already employed in St. Augustine. The plant will assemble Advanced Hawkeye aircraft for the Navy and U.S. allies. A yearlong fight in St. Augustine to keep a convenience store from going up at San Marco Avenue and May Street ended when the city agreed to buy the land for $1.4 million.
ST. JOHNS COUNTY — GreenPointe Communities has received approval for a 2,776-home master-planned community near the World Golf Village. Homes in the 1,300 acre development, known as Trailmark, will be priced from the mid- $200,000 and be available this fall.
The total number of building permits in Duval, Clay, Nassau and St. Johns County remained steady for the first quarter of 2013, 2014 and 2015.