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Fueling the future

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Four CNG stations now open in Weld County

By Gene Sears

With the opening of a pair of compressed natural gas stations in Fort Lupton and Kersey, the total of stations serving the public in the county rises to four.
    The stations follow the county’s blueprint to reduce emissions by making the fuel more readily available for consumer use. Toward that goal, the county engaged a Weld County Natural Gas Coalition to study and implement wider use of the alternate fuel in both private and public vehicles.
    “We are excited to reach this milestone,” said Weld Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer, who formed the coalition in 2009. “One of the goals of the coalition was to create an alternative fuel corridor between the Denver metro area and Wyoming. With the opening of these two stations, Weld County and the (coalition) have reached that goal.”
    On Dec. 18, 2012, the coalition celebrated the opening of the Fort Lupton station with a grand opening ceremony at the station, owned by ZeitEnergy and located at Fort Lupton’s North Station, it’s the first public CNG station in southeastern Weld County. On Dec. 20, a fourth CNG station — also owned by ZeitEnergy and located at Kramer’s Wedge Store — opened in Kersey.
     “With stations now located in Firestone, Fort Lupton, Kersey and Greeley, drivers will be able to fuel with CNG throughout the county,” said Kirkmeyer. “We are proud to have been able to work with public and private entities to bring affordable and clean-burning CNG to Weld County.”
    In addition to promoting CNG for public use, Weld County is in the process of converting its own vehicle fleet to CNG and liquefied natural gas (LNG) for some heavy trucks.
    “The cost savings for CNG and LNG fuel is significant,” said Kirkmeyer. “That’s why the county is moving forward with its own fleet conversion.”
    In sync with the county, Fort Lupton is moving the majority of its fleet of city vehicles to CNG as well. Taking advantage of a federal congestion mitigation and air quality program, the city moved forward with plans to replace or supplement their fleet with converted vehicles.
    The program, designed to assist air quality non-attainment and maintenance locations in meeting national air quality standards, funds qualifying transportation projects and programs to improve air quality. On a local level, those funds are set to provide an 80-20 match for the purchase of several vehicles for use by city services.
    In 2011, the city was awarded a CMAQ grant to purchase nine CNG-powered vehicles. Those vehicles are arriving now, with one “on the ground, and eight more on the way,” according to Fort Lupton City Manager Claud Hanes.
    “We had expected others by year’s end, but we haven’t seen them yet,” Hanes said.
    Paying about 18 percent of sticker price for the vehicles while CNG prices hover near $2 per gallon, the crossover is a great deal for the city — one that Hanes would like to keep going if more funding becomes available in 2013.
    “As they have more funds, we are going to try and step in and get two or three more vehicles in 2013, if we can,” Hanes said. “If they open up the gate, we want to try and grab as much as we can.”

Contact Staff Writer Gene Sears at gsears@metrowestnewspapers.com.