Governor Pushing for More Natural Gas Vehicles in WV - WBOY.com: Clarksburg, Morgantown: News, Sports, Weather

Governor Pushing for More Natural Gas Vehicles in WV

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CLARKSBURG -

With oil and gas companies lining West Virginia industrial parks, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin wants to involve them more - on our roads.

"With the amount of natural gas we have sitting under the surface of West Virginia and the cost of natural gas today, it only makes sense," Governor Tomblin said.

Tomblin started a Natural Gas Vehicle Task Force. It's only met once so far, but the governor said he expected it to decide how the state and counties can best transition their vehicles.

Bob Orndorff is part of the task force. He manages government affairs for Dominion.

"We're looking at ways to make sure the product produced in West Virginia is being used in West Virginia to maximize the development of natural gas," Orndorff said.

Natural gas compressor and filling stations are very large. Dominion has one at its plant in Clarksburg. But the problem is getting the big station in to something that would be at a gas station for us to fill up a car.

"What we're hoping to do now is have at least one fueling station in every county," Tomblin said.

That would be 55 fueling stations. It sounded like a tall task. Tomblin said West Virginia already tried to institute natural gas fueling stations in the 1990s. Not having enough stations made the project fail, he said.

But, some argue the quantity of stations isn't the only problem; some also worry about the safety of transporting and storing natural gas. Dominion officials said it's no more or less dangerous than regular gas.

Today, it's all about the bottom line. Tomblin said one company told him it cost $30,000 to convert its vehicles to natural gas.

"In the first year they saved $25,000 in fuel, which would mean in a little more than a year you could pay for that conversion," Tomblin said.

Officials from energy companies that have offices in West Virginia mostly comprise the task force, along with officials from the Governor's Office and the Departments of Transportation and Commerce.