The Times West Virginian

West Virginia

February 22, 2013

State urged to convert 2,000 vehicles to natural gas

‘Opportunity to reinvest in our own economy’

CHARLESTON — West Virginia should convert at least one fourth of its roughly 7,800-vehicle fleet to natural gas within four years to seize on the state’s ample supply amid volatile gasoline and diesel prices, a governor-commissioned task force said in a report Thursday.

The study also recommends offering tax credits worth up to $400,000 to encourage the building of fueling stations. It identifies the Kanawha Valley, the counties that host the West Virginia Turnpike and the Interstate 79 corridor from Harrison to Monongalia counties as among the best sites for these stations.

“We have the opportunity to reinvest in our own economy, provide drivers with lower costs at the pump as well as support the establishment of more good-paying jobs for West Virginians, all by using a clean burning energy source harvested right here at home,” Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said in a statement heralding the report.

Tomblin appointed the 21-member task force, which includes a number of executives from natural gas developers and convenience store-fueling station chains, in June. The study follows increased interest in the huge estimated reserve of natural gas trapped deep beneath West Virginia and area states in the Marcellus and Utica shale formations.

The governor has already acted on another task force finding. He’s proposed refocusing the tax credit for buying alternative fuel vehicles on natural gas as part of his agenda for the ongoing legislative session. The study said state-operated vehicles alone cannot sustain natural gas fueling stations. Given the absence of such stations in West Virginia — around 1,000 operate nationally — the task force recommends the state begin this switch by purchasing vehicles that run on both natural gas and traditional fuel.

But at least some stations are on the way. IGS Energy announced plans last month to build and operate a $10 million network of compressed natural gas fueling stations along I-79 in Charleston, Bridgeport, Jane Lew, and near the Pennsylvania line. The Dublin, Ohio-based company estimates it will have all four up and running by the end of the year.

Thursday’s report also touts propane for fueling school buses. It estimates the state could save $3,100 a year for each bus that runs on this byproduct from natural gas drilling. With 3,000 school buses statewide, the study projects annual savings exceeding $9 million by switching them all. Propane-fueled buses costs about $10,000 more than those that run on diesel, but the state would recover that extra spending within 3 1/2 years, the study said.

Full-sized pickup trucks, meanwhile, offer the greatest savings for converting at least 1,952 of the state fleet vehicles to natural gas, the report found. It would cost $9,000 to switch one over, but its fuel costs would drop by half to $1.80 per gallon under recent prices, the study said. The report estimated the state would recoup its investment and save $5,000 within the truck’s five-year lifespan. It offered a potential savings of $2,569 per vehicle during the seven-year lifespan of a converted heavy-duty dump truck.

“The conversion cost of a sedan does not produce a reasonable return on investment,” the report said.

The vehicle purchase tax credit covers 35 percent of the cost, up to $7,500 for cars and $25,000 for large trucks. Tomblin has proposed ending the credit for plug-in electric and hybrid vehicles as well as those that run on ethanol, alcohol, hydrogen, solar power and coal-derived liquid fuels. His bill would also phase out the credit in 2017, rather than in 2021 as currently scheduled.

Environmental groups have questioned the governor’s approach, as improving air quality has been a goal of the tax credit. With coal still West Virginia’s dominant natural resource, mining interests support keeping the credit for vehicles that rely on electricity or coal-based fuels.

Text Only
West Virginia
  • Battle won in black lung fight

    Joe Massie has spent the last 22 years of his life fighting a disease that takes his breath away, a disease he contracted deep underground in the coal mines over a period of 30 years.
    Black lung may take away his breath; it has not stilled his voice.

    August 1, 2014

  • Justice mines have more than 250 violations in five states

    A West Virginia coal billionaire has more than 250 pending violations at mining operations in Kentucky and four other states.
    The Courier-Journal cited data from the federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement in reporting that almost half of the citations against mines owned by Jim Justice are located in Kentucky, where enforcement officials have set an Aug. 11 deadline to take corrective action.

    August 1, 2014

  • Coal dust limit to try to combat black lung

    The Obama administration’s push to reduce black lung disease by limiting coal dust in mines is taking effect.

    July 31, 2014

  • Barboursville to host 2015 regional soccer tourney

    A youth soccer regional tournament will be held next year in Barboursville.

    July 31, 2014

  • Kroger restricts pseudoephedrine sales in W.Va.

    Supermarket chain Kroger is tightening monthly purchase limits of cold medications that contain pseudoephedrine at its West Virginia stores.

    July 31, 2014

  • Two state tornadoes occur on same day

    West Virginia gets few tornadoes on average every year, yet two of them occurred on one recent day.
    While the sheer number of annual tornadoes pales in comparison to other states, they do occur in West Virginia, with its vast network of hills and mountains. Two of them formed 55 miles apart on Sunday night.

    July 31, 2014

  • I-77 tunnel repair complete

    Repairs to an Interstate 77 tunnel along the Virginia-West Virginia border have been completed following a truck fire.

    July 30, 2014

  • Another tornado confirmed in West Virginia

    Another tornado has been confirmed in West Virginia.

    July 30, 2014

  • Pierpont, WVU-Parkersburg enter transfer agreement

    West Virginia University at Parkersburg has signed a transfer agreement with Pierpont Community & Technical College.

    July 30, 2014

  • Repairs set for I-77 tunnel

    Some lanes of an Interstate 77 tunnel along the Virginia-West Virginia border where a truck fire occurred are being rerouted for repairs.

    July 29, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads