In early September, West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin continued his support of West Virginia’s natural gas industry. The Governor’s Natural Gas Task Force held a meeting at the Wheeling Area Chamber of Commerce.

In addition to Natural Gas, the task force also considered alternative fuels such as propane.

While in Wheeling, the Blue Bird Company a propane powered school bus downtown. As part of the demonstration, Blue Bird presented that the engine of the bus made less noise than a traditional diesel-fuel.

Currently, the Natural Gas task force is discussing the possibility of transitioning the state’s vehicle fleet to natural gas.

A propane powered Blue Bird company school bus, The Governor’s Natural Gas Task Force is currently considering transitioning the state fleet to Natural Gas or Propane. Credit: Roush Clean Tech.

National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium executive director, Al Ebron, attended the event with Dr. Nigel Clark, Associate Vice President of Academic and Strategic Planning at West Virginia University. Dr. Clark is WVU’s representative on the Governor’s Natural Gas Vehicle Task Force. Also attending from WVU was Mridul Gautam Associate Vice President Research.

“The cost of propane is currently at $1.62 per gallon,” Ebron explained. “That’s half of the price of diesel. Transitioning the state fleet to natural gas can save money and as the fueling infrastructure is created, it can create jobs in the state.”

According to statistics from Roush CleanTech, a propane injection fuel system engineer, presently 70 percent of all propane is derived from natural gas refining.

“We have an abundance of natural gas right here in West Virginia,” Governor Tomblin wrote in a July column. “Now is the time for us to begin transitioning to the transportation fuel source of tomorrow. -The transition to natural gas fueled vehicles must begin now so that our auto industry and private sector fuel retailers can embrace the future by manufacturing natural gas vehicles and equipping filling stations with natural gas fuel. “

The governor’s legal counsel provided statistics stating there are about 38,000 school buses in West Virginia, and that their average age is 12 years.

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