Hornbeck's compressed natural gas station in Leesville is now officially open.

Hornbeck's compressed natural gas station in Leesville is now officially open.

After a ribbon-cutting on Wednesday, people loaded up in a CNG Blue Bird bus and went for a ride to experience the difference. This was followed by an informational presentation and luncheon across the street at the Johnson Temple Church of God in Christ.

Back in February, the Hornbeck town council approved $1.55/gallon for the CNG fueling station at 1001 N. Sixth Street in Leesville.

In 2014, the town, which owns a natural gas distribution system, announced its plan to install a fast-fill CNG station in Leesville. Some of the town's vehicles were switched to dual-fuel systems at that time, to take advantage of the low cost of CNG.

Hornbeck Mayor, Clarence Beebe, said in 2014, that he thinks it makes sense for the community to use this abundant and inexpensive fuel. "It will bring us one step closer to being free from our dependence on foreign oil," he said.

The initial goal was to make clean, natural gas an affordable option for the people of Vernon Parish. That goal is now a reality.

Hornbeck currently has three town vehicles which run on CNG, said Cara McDaniel, town clerk. They have been filling their tanks at a slow-fill station located at the Hornbeck town hall. This takes about six hours, she said.

The new CNG station in Leesville is an unmanned fast-fill, self-service (credit card), public station.

There are currently 947 public CNG filling stations in the United States. 16 of these stations are located in Louisiana in Alexandria, Baton Rouge (two), Bossier City (two), Coushatta, Frierson, Houma, Kenner, Lafayette (two), Mansfield, Natchitoches, and Shreveport (three).

Jody Browning, Hornbeck's operations manager, has said that people need more available locations to fill their tanks if CNG is to be a viable fuel option for drivers. Companies such as FedX Ground have some vehicles that run on CNG, but there are not always enough areas for them to fill their tanks to travel to all of the locations they must reach.