White Hall Business Offers Natural Gas Conversion Services - WBOY.com: Clarksburg, Morgantown: News, Sports, Weather

White Hall Business Offers Natural Gas Conversion Services

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WHITE HALL -

According to the West Virginia Department of Commerce, more than 2,700 wells have been identified as targeting the Marcellus Shale in West Virginia.

Proponents of natural gas development argue that the resource is much cleaner and cheaper than regular fuels, including gasoline.

While natural gas is used almost daily in home heating in West Virginia, focus is starting to turn on its vehicle use.

IGS Energy CNG Services recently welcomed a brand new Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) Fueling Station at the Exxon on Jerry Drove Drive in Bridgeport. It's the first of three stations planned to open in the Mountain State.

CNG vehicles are just starting to emerge on the market too. Honda recently introduced the Honda Civic CNG, the first consumer-available natural gas powered sedan.

While natural gas is nearly $1.50 cheaper than its gasoline gallon equivalent, most consumers can't afford to purchase a brand new car to run on natural gas.

Jeff Corcetti, President of Jeff's Performance Plus, recently opened up a facility in White Hall to give drivers another option: a natural gas conversion. Essentially, this allows drivers to power their current vehicles with natural gas. 

"We can convert vehicles probably back to 2009, depending on year, make and model. There are certain kits out there for used vehicles. Typically, we convert a vehicle with under 50,000 miles on it," said Jeff Corcetti, President of Jeff's Performance Plus.

Corcetti said a conversion can cost anywhere from $8,000 to $12,000.  With the conversion, cars can still operate on gasoline.

"What you are essentially doing is adding a fuel system to the vehicle. You are not removing anything from the original fuel system. You are adding a secondary one too it. A new fuel tank, new fuel lines, new injectors, new computer.  So, it is essentially two separate systems that work together. So, at any rate, if there is a failure on alternative fuel it can always default back to gasoline. Or if you run out of alternative fuel, you have a gasoline tank to revert too," Corcetti said. 

While it is possible to convert almost any style of car, Corcetti said most of his work is with light to medium trucks, SUVs and vans.

For the conversion to be cost-effective, Corcetti said the driver would need to put quite a bit of miles on the road.

"Average pay back, is between 70,000 to 100,000 miles on the vehicle with that fuel. After 100,000 miles is where you are going to see your drastic savings," Corcetti said.

He said that is why most of his business is with contractors, natural gas companies, and other fleet-based vehicles.

"Majority of people we are seeing are fleet users, anyone who drives in the 80 to 120 mile range per day," Corcetti said.

With just one fueling station in north central West Virginia, Corcetti said using that fuel on a daily basis just isn't practical.

"Not yet, I would say that as the infrastructure grows and cost of the systems and conversions goes down, I would say in the next few years," Corcetti said.

Jeff's Performance Plus converts two to three trucks per week. Once the market hits, Corcetti expects his garage will be even busier.

Aside from cost and convenience issues, Corcetti said misconception is also getting in the way.

"People have the concerns that it will blow up, safety factors. It's a misconception that people don't know about. Come check us out, we'll give you a tour, show you the safeties," Corcetti said.

While he said it is safe to drive, he added that it is not an average mechanics line of work and said vehicle owners need to do their research before deciding on a conversion.

"Not just anybody can be an installer. You want to make sure the system, or the conversion you are getting is EPA  {Environmental Protection Agency} certified," Corcetti said.

For more information about tax credits for CNG conversions and vehicle purchases, click here.