Springfield’s first public compressed natural gas fueling station is scheduled to open this spring, and Jonathan Gano is a key reason why.
As assistant director of the city’s Public Works Department, Gano was instrumental in working with U.S. Energy Department grant funds to develop the alternative fuel station. He also was a strong advocate for implementing technology to open the station to the public.
“I upgraded the fueling system to a fast-fill station that better serves the grant and has the carryover effect of being useful to the public, since it wouldn’t take eight hours to fill up,” Gano says, noting with the additional technology investments, fueling will take only five minutes.
The station in Springfield is a bit of a breakthrough. Only 13 CNG stations operate within 150 miles of the city, and the closest is 90 miles to the west in Miami, Okla.
“The problem facing large-scale adoption is lack of infrastructure, and investors won’t back infrastructure until there’s a large fleet to serve,” Gano says.
With this move, he says the city might break the chicken-egg impasse.
“The state of Missouri is a wasteland for alternative-fueled vehicles, impassable for lack of infrastructure,” he adds. “A publicly accessible CNG station in Springfield would connect the rest of the Midwest to the eastern seaboard.”
Outside of a small city-owned CNG fleet, Gano expects private business fleets to respond favorably to the domestically sourced, cleaner burning fuel, especially with gasoline prices edging toward $4 per gallon.
Gano is only a few years into his current city position, having worked up from assistant superintendent of streets when he came on board with Public Works in 2004. Gano helps manage 150 employees and $1.5 billion in assets, and in 2010 he notched the national Young Leader of the Year award from the 30,000-member American Public Works Association.
“I lead one of the largest work groups in the city of Springfield,” he says. “It is easy to simply focus on the task at hand. … I have instead been breaking down parochial walls between work groups, adjusting attitudes to our collective responsibility and approaching problems as a team.”
In the community, Gano serves on the board of Springfield Regional Arts Council and is chairman of the Habitat for Humanity of Springfield’s property development committee.
A graduate of the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., Gano served in the U.S. Army 1996–2004 as a platoon leader and maintenance officer in Germany, Bosnia, Albania, Kosovo and Italy, before working stateside to train and recruit soldiers.Click here for full coverage of the 2012 40 Under 40.