CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Kanawha County leaders are ready to receive bids on a natural gas filling port to fuel the county's natural-gas-powered Chevrolet Tahoe SUV.
Installation of the port, which will allow the county to fill the vehicle's tank at the courthouse downtown, is just one step in a plan to convert county vehicles to alternate fuel sources.
"I would like a good portion of the fleet to go toward natural gas," Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper said.
In September, the county bought its first natural-gas-powered vehicle, which can be filled up on compressed natural gas for the equivalent of less than $2 a gallon of gasoline.
The Kanawha Valley Regional Transportation Authority has meanwhile agreed to buy eight natural-gas-powered buses, and the Kanawha County Commission voted to buy 20 natural-gas-powered vehicles in coming months if a local business owner installs a natural gas filling station.
Although an entrepreneur has yet to step in with a commitment to build the station, "I'm absolutely convinced that's going to happen," Carper said. "It's just a question of when and where."
Recent exploitation of the vast Marcellus Shale gas field that extends beneath much of West Virginia has convinced Carper that vast supplies of cheap, locally produced and refined natural gas will soon be available. County officials want to be ready if that happens.
"[The gas] is already there," Carper said. "You don't even have to process it. You just take it out of the ground and compress it."