CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- In March, the state's first fuel conversion facility will open in Morgantown.
The center will convert trucks, vans and school buses to operate on natural gas, propane or other alternative fuels.
INNOVA, an initiative of the West Virginia High Technology Consortium Foundation, has partnered with Alternative Fuels Solutions of West Virginia to open the state's first fuel conversion center.
The facility -- which is an existing building that officials are making modifications to -- will lead to more cost-effective fuel for fleet vehicles, said INNOVA Director Guy Peduto.
Operators will also benefit from the state's tax credits available specifically for alternative fuel conversion, he said.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin submitted several pieces of tax credit legislation last year for anyone who converts vehicles to alternative fuels. Those measures had passed the Legislature.
"We are sitting on one of the largest pockets of natural gas. Economically it makes sense for fleet operators to convert over," Peduto said. "The one thing missing in West Virginia is we didn't have the conversion [capabilities] in the state. Our fleet operators have been traveling to Ohio and Pennsylvania, paying full rates. The benefit to the state now is we can help expedite this process within this state."
INNOVA is providing a low-interest loan investment, Peduto said. The company received a match of the loan from the West Virginia Capitol Investment program. The state Department of Commerce's Development Office is funding most of the initiative.
The company will offer EPA-certified compressed natural gas systems, custom conversion kits, and propane conversions.
The conversion process involves adding a natural gas storage tank to the vehicle, modifying the fuel injection and the vehicle's computer system to accommodate compressed natural gas systems or propane, and then testing the vehicle after the conversion is complete.
"With the four fueling stations going up along I-79, you can see it's almost a perfect storm of factors coming together at the same time," Peduto said.
Reach Megan Workman at megan.work...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5113.