On October 2nd, during a ceremony held in conjunction with his third annual Conference on Energy, Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell officially announced a public-private partnership between Virginia and two fuel companies, Clean Energy Fuels Corp. and Blossman Gas. Founded in 2010 by McDonnell, the Conference on Energy aims to promote the use of a wide range of energy sources in Virginia. This year, about 500 people attended the event, held at the Richmond Convention Center.

During the event, Governor McDonnell spoke on the importance of promoting alternative fuel vehicles.

“Virginia has an opportunity to lead the nation by fully committing to making a substantial contribution to our nation’s energy independence from foreign oil. The Commonwealth of Virginia owns thousands of vehicles powered primarily by gasoline or diesel fuels blended from foreign oil,” McDonnell said. “In addition to reducing our nation’s dependence on foreign sources of oil, a transition to natural gas and propane vehicles will also reduce emissions. Although these alternative fuel vehicles are available and operating on our roads today, available refueling infrastructure for these vehicles is limited.”

Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell speaks at the Conference on Energy in Richmond, Virginia. Credit: Virginia Governor’s Office. Photographer: Michaele White.

The state of Virginia made the decision to address these issues by soliciting partnerships with alternative fueling companies in order to provide alternative fuel infrastructure and vehicle conversions to state bodies. Clean Energy and Blossman Gas were selected as partners out of the 14 companies who responded to the solicitation.

“The agreements signed today will bring new refueling stations to Virginia at no-cost, and they will be available to state agencies, local governments, and private citizens and businesses,” Governor McDonnell said. “These alternative fuel vehicles can and should be used by the Commonwealth to reduce the Commonwealth’s dependence on foreign oil and expand markets for domestic fuels.”

Clean Energy, a natural gas company headquartered in Seal, California, plans to build a network of compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling stations across Virginia. Clean Energy has recently opened its first CNG public-access station in Virginia, located on Maury Street in downtown Richmond. The company plans to open its second Virginia station soon, near Dulles International Airport.

Clean Energy will also provide CNG vehicle conversions to commonwealth, county, city, and municipal Virginia governments at a reduced cost. These government bodies will be able to access Clean Energy’s special CNG pricing via the state’s procurement website, eVA. The deal is designed to encourage government bodies from Virginia to convert their vehicle fleets to CNG.

Founded in 1951, Blossman Gas is the largest independently owned propane company in the US. The company, a founding partner of Alliance AutoGas, a nationwide network that provides a hassle-free solution to convert vehicle fleets from gasoline to propane autogas, has partnered with the commonwealth of Virginia to develop at least seven propane stations across the state. Blossman Gas will also provide local and Commonwealth Virginia governments with vehicle conversions.

The partnerships will aid Virginia in building a stable alternative fuel infrastructure and encouraging vehicle fleet conversion.

“Not only is this good for the government and the environment, but ultimately it will be good for consumers and the economy as well. The infrastructure created through this effort will be available to fuel passenger vehicles and other commercial fleets,” Governor McDonnell said. “Through this innovative public-private partnership we enter into today, the Commonwealth, industry leaders and innovators can work collaboratively to move state government and private industry away from vehicles fueled by gasoline and diesel fuel and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.”

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