WV Task Force Investigates CNG for State Vehicles

West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin wants the state-owned vehicles in his state to run on compressed natural gas (CNG) produced right in his own state, and he’s assembled a task force to investigate how to make it happen:

West Virginia’s abundant natural gas supply has Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin ready to order a cost-benefit analysis of switching at least part of the state’s vehicle fleet from gasoline and diesel, according to administration officials and those who have been asked to serve on the resulting task force.

Tomblin plans to issue an executive order that also aims promote this alternative source among the public, said Rob Alsop, his chief of staff.

"He thinks that given the price of natural gas and what looks like the long term development of the Marcellus Shale, this can become a resource for our fleet instead of depending on oil," Alsop said. "It could help with job creation and lowering transportations costs in the state."

The task force is expected to include top executives from gas producers and companies with such relevant holdings as service stations.

"We’re interested in demonstrating that we can improve our nation’s energy security, hopefully by converting at least part of the vehicular fleet in this country, starting here in West Virginia," said Phil Reale of the state’s Independent Oil and Gas Association, among those asked to join the volunteer group. "We want to demonstrate West Virginia has vision and can lead the way in changing the energy sector of our economy."*

West Virginia flirted with converting vehicles to natural gas in the 1990s, but the experiment at that time did not catch on. There were not enough people and businesses willing to make the switch to make it economically viable to build enough filling stations. And the price of natural gas was much higher (compared to gasoline) at that time too.

All of those things have now changed, making the odds much better that this time it will be successful.

*Parkersburg (WV) News and Sentinel/AP (Jun 10, 2012) – W.Va. gov making nat gas vehicle push