Kanawha Converts, a consortium of local governmental and business leaders, economic development, energy, and education agencies, has set a goal of seeing a natural gas fueling station as part of its initative for the conversion of gasoline engines to natural gas for Kanawha County operated vehicles.
In the United States, recent shale gas discoveries have generated renewed interest in using natural gas as a vehicular fuel, primarily in fleet applications. With the discovery of the Marcellus Shale and Utica Shale in West Virginia and surrounding regions, as well as with existing manufacturing infrastructure in the Kanawha Valley and enactment of the 2011 Marcellus Gas and Manufacturing Development Act, Kanawha County officials want advancement of the energy, economic, and environmental goals for the region through fleet conversion to compressed natural gas (CNG) engines with the Kanawha Converts program.
Kanawha Converts was created in January by the Kanawha County Commission to focus on natural gas conversion. Using $50,000
in seed money, the consortium was formed with representatives from the county commission, Charleston Area Alliance, Bridgemont Community and Technical College and the Kanawha Valley Regional Transportation Authority (KRT), along with representatives from the state’s energy sector and local business leaders. The $50,000 is being used to coordinate consortium activities, conduct market analyses, provide references materials, and contract with experts in education and training, marketing, and financial fields to help initiate the project.
Charleston Area Alliance President and CEO Matt Ballard said the consortium feels confident that a natural gas fueling station will arrive in the region sooner rather than later. The county commission has committed to converting many of its agencies’ fleet vehicles once the first station is in place. Bridgemont plans to construct a training program that will train a workforce to convert vehicles and maintain them.
“The Kanawha Converts initiative has brought a broad interest to move these goals forward. There is much progress being made and we applaud the Kanawha County Commission for providing the seed funding to initiate this economic development project,” Ballard said. “Natural gas is abundant in West Virginia. It’s also is cheaper and burns cleaner than the current standard. We want to take advantage of this natural resource to create new jobs and save the taxpayers’ money.”
A bill has been introduced in the Legislature by Del. Doug Skaff, D-Kanawha, that will authorize the sale and transfer of tax credits allowed for the purchase or conversion of alternative fuel vehicles and the construction of alternative fuel vehicle refueling stations. The bill would ensure governmental entities are able to take advantage of tax credits when they convert to alternative fuel vehicles.