GLENWOOD SPRINGS — A new alternative fuels grant program that is expected to be announced soon by the Colorado Energy Office could prime the pump for one company’s plans to build a compressed natural gas fueling station in Glenwood Springs.
Trillium CNG was selected by the city of Glenwood Springs in early 2013 for its proposal to use a $100,000 incentive offer from the city and Garfield County to build a local CNG station.
Since that time, the Salt Lake City-based company has been working to gauge local demand, both from commercial and individual consumers.
It is also working in conjunction with Carbondale-based Clean Energy Economy for the Region (CLEER) to line up fuel purchase agreements from the operators of public and private vehicle fleets in the area.
“We are in the midst of asking for fleet pledges related to future vehicle purchases if a fuel station is built,” said Mike Ogburn, clean vehicle technology program manager for CLEER.
“At this moment we have at least five fleets pledging to make CNG vehicle purchases, with more expected in the near future,” he said, adding that automobile dealers are also pledging to make the vehicles available locally.
With support from the city, the county and CLEER, Trillium also intends to apply for a grant through the Alt Fuels Colorado program to help offset some more of the estimated $1 million to $1.2 million cost to install the facility.
“Building a station in Glenwood Springs will give local fleet owners confidence in CNG as a vehicle fuel, and give them the motivation to shift fleet vehicles to CNG fueling systems as budgets allow,” Glenwood Springs City Council and Garfield County commissioners said in a recent letter of support for the grant.
“A Glenwood Springs station will also create an essential link in the chain of stations stretching along the I-70 corridor across Colorado, building the statewide infrastructure for fueling CNG vehicles,” the letter states.
Trillium, which installed a CNG fueling station for the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority’s CNG-powered buses in Glenwood Springs, has been eyeing potential locations for a public fueling station close to I-70.
A possible site is the West Glenwood Shell station at Highway 6 and Mel Rey Road, although a formal agreement has not been reached.
“It would be up to Trillium to arrange a business relationship with a particular site owner,” Ogburn said. “In addition to having space on a site to build the facility, the other key thing is to have adequate access for larger vehicles.”
Currently, the only CNG fueling stations on the Western Slope are near I-70, in Grand Junction, Parachute and Rifle.
Several public fleet operations, including the Colorado Department of Transportation and other state agencies, Garfield County and the White River National Forest have begun or intend to begin purchasing CNG vehicles as more stations come on line.
Encana and other oil and gas companies have also included CNG vehicles in their private fleets, and interest has been expressed by electricians, plumbers, cleaning companies and security firms that operate fleets, Ogburn said.
He said the payback is longer for more-local government and private fleets that don’t log a lot of miles, which is why some municipalities are less likely to purchase CNG vehicles.
“A lot of the payback comes when you burn a lot of miles in a big vehicle,” Ogburn said. “So, if you drive 10,000 miles a year in a car, it takes longer to pay off that investment.”
Once Colorado’s new grant program is announced and grants are awarded, he said he expects the proliferation of both CNG stations and electric plug-in vehicles to proliferate across the state.
Garfield Clean Energy, which is managed by CLEER, offers a free analysis to fleet owners through its Refuel Colorado Fleets program to recommend the most cost-effective way to bring energy cost savings to fleet operators.
“A Glenwood Springs station will also create an essential link in the chain of stations stretching along the I-70 corridor across Colorado.”
letter from Glenwood Springs City Council and Garfield County commissioners