WV County to Invest $50K in NG Vehicle Conversion Center

Kanawha County, WV wants to become a leading location to convert vehicles to run on natural gas, and County Commission President Kent Carper plans to use $50,000 of county money to make it happen.

Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper wants to make a $50,000 "down payment" on a plan to turn the county into a center for converting vehicles to run on natural gas.

A proposal to give the Charleston Area Alliance $50,000 to help establish a "Kanawha Converts" Consortium will be discussed at a Kanawha County Commission meeting on Thursday. Carper has been in discussion with faculty and staff at Bridgemont Community & Technical College in Montgomery about overseeing a program to take maximum advantage of natural gas technology.

"Instead of taking the gas and shipping it off somewhere else, get the downstream jobs right here," Carper suggests.

He said the recent exploitation of vast Marcellus Shale gas reserves in West Virginia will put Kanawha County into a position to cash in on all kinds of spinoffs of the natural gas industry.

Although state and county officials have long been trying to land an ethane cracker plant in the region, Carper also wants to develop compressed natural gas service stations in the area and develop technology to convert vehicles to run on natural gas.

"We can ship them off to South Carolina to be converted, or we can convert them right here," he said.

Carper predicts more and more vehicles will be converted to run on natural gas as more Marcellus Shale gas becomes available. "There is an opportunity here today," Carper said. "There’s going to be a huge opportunity to take advantage of this abundant source of natural gas in many ways."*

*The Charleston Gazette (Jan 2, 2012) – Carper proposes tapping into potential natural gas industry