A compressed natural gas fueling station in Athens Township will soon be operational, officials told the Endless Mountains Transportation Authority board of directors Wednesday.

The station, a collaborative effort between EMTA, Chesapeake Energy and Dandy Mini Marts, will be complete before a March 31 deadline to utilize an Alternative Fuels Incentive Grant the companies received through the state Department of Environmental Protection, said Kevin Kilpatrick of River Valley Transit, whose management staff are currently handling EMTA's management duties.

Fueling equipment has been installed at the station, located at Pine and Elmira streets, and officials are waiting for Penelec to hook up power to the station, Kilpatrick said Wednesday.

Kilpatrick said invoices will be provided to DEP by the Sunday deadline for the equipment and a fixed-route, CNG-powered vehicle funded by the $750,000 grant.

The grant will cover $600,000 of the equipment cost, with Dandy Mini Marts assuming the rest. The EMTA board awarded the $759,875 equipment contract to Beavers Petroleum Equipment Company of Horseheads, N.Y., the project's sole bidder, in December.

The grant also provides $150,000 toward a CNG-powered vehicle. Maintenance officer Carl Souder said the vehicle should be built by the end of next week and in use shortly thereafter.

Board members Wednesday agreed to authorize general manager Bill Nichols and board chair Bob Getz to send a letter to state Gov. Tom Corbett inviting him to a ribbon cutting for the CNG station, tentatively scheduled for May 2.

The station "will greatly benefit the area's public transit operations in the long run as local bus fuels will eventually transition to CNG," the letter reads. "It will be our pleasure to have you join us as we are excited about moving forward on the CNG initiative and the growing opportunity for the transportation industry."

Amanda Renko can be reached at (570) 888-9652; or email: arenko@thedailyreview.com.