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Compressed natural gas station in Firestone lauded

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By John Carr

With Weld County having more oil and gas wells than any other county in the nation, compressed natural gas (CNG) could easily be called Colorado Natural Gas. On June 29, representatives from the private and public sectors gathered as partners to officially launch a project three years in the making.

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SkyBlu Smart Fuels, located near the 7-Eleven at SH 119 and Interstate 25, will now begin selling compressed natural gas for use in alternative fuel vehicles. This is the first of at least two CNG retail centers to begin operating in the county this year.

Many people at the grand opening recognized Weld County Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer as the driving force behind the opening of the retail center and the drive for cleaner burning fuels in the county. She was joined by Firestone Mayor Chad Auer and fellow county commissioners Douglas Rademacher and Sean Conway. Alex Schroeder from Colorado’s Energy Office and J. Alexander, President of Mansfield Energy, also spoke.

During her brief talk Kirkmeyer described the three-year effort to open this new fueling center. The Weld County Natural Gas Coalition is a coalition of representatives from state, county and local governments as well as the private sector including Mansfield Energy, Anadarko, Noble Energy and Encana. Kirkmeyer explained the county’s plans to reduce dependence on foreign oil by being a leader in the drive for cleaner burning fuels all produced in Weld County.

Weld County recently placed 11 county automobiles in service that operate as bi-fuel vehicles. After expending their alternate fuels a bi-fuel vehicle will then switch automatically over to gasoline. Elizabeth Relford from the Weld County Public Works Department demonstrated how easy it is to fill the tank of a CNG vehicle. County-owned cars generally have a range of 200 miles on an eight-gallon tank of CNG.

Using CNG as a fuel in combustion engines offers numerous advantages over gasoline. It is cheaper. SkyBlu is selling an equivalent gallon of CNG for $2.22 a gallon. It is cleaner. Compressed Natural Gas in vehicles produces between 80 percent and 90 percent fewer pollutants than gasoline. It will reduce the country’s dependence on imported oil. Converting 8 million vehicles to CNG will bring that dependency down from 60 percent to a mere 15 percent.

The SkyBlu retail center will operate as a normal gas station except it will only dispense compressed natural gas.