The county's SUV will run on either gasoline or natural gas at the flip of a switch.
Matt Thomas, in charge of the natural gas project for the County Commission, said the fueling port is expected to cost between $14,000 and $18,000 and would fill a vehicle over the course of several hours. County officials hope a commercial natural gas filling station, that will pump gas as fast as a gasoline pump, will be built in the area soon.
"The time frame I thought originally was six to nine months," Carper said. Now, county officials are hoping a natural gas filling station will be up and running within a year to 18 months.
Carper said the county likely next will buy a natural gas-powered vehicle to transport mental hygiene patients to and from the courthouse annex. Those vehicles make a lot of trips, and are a logical choice to convert to natural gas, he said.
Converting a vehicle to run on compressed natural gas costs about $10,000 to $15,000, but the extra cost will be made up quickly in savings on fuel, county officials believe. Carper thinks natural gas will only get cheaper as more local gas reserves are tapped.
County officials are also looking at converting vehicles to run on liquid propane.
Carper and Kanawha County Commissioners Dave Hardy and Hoppy Shores are expected to talk about the alternate fuel vehicle program at a regular commission meeting on Jan. 10.
Reach Rusty Marks at rustyma...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1215.