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Western Colorado could meet east in CNG efforts

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Garfield County may join with other energy producing counties, including Weld County in northeast Colorado, in a possible “east-meets-west” effort to accelerate the use of compressed natural gas vehicles throughout the state.

Currently, Garfield County is involved in promoting the use of compressed natural gas (CNG) through its regional partnership with Garfield Clean Energy.

That group has been working to encourage energy independence through the Western Slope CNG Forum, a group of natural gas producers, auto dealers, fuel providers and fleet operators focused on expanding the use of CNG in vehicles.



Meanwhile, what’s known as “Weld Smart Energy,” a program led by elected officials in Weld County, has been collaborating with local producers in that region to generate demand among consumers and eventually create six CNG fueling stations.

“Our suggestion is that you consider whether the county commission would be interested in taking our local effort and raising it to a multi-county effort,” Mike Ogburn, representing Garfield Clean Energy, said in a presentation to the Garfield Board of County Commissioners Monday.



In doing so, Garfield County would be asked to develop a plan for the Western Slope similar to Weld’s, and begin to build a cross-state CNG infrastructure.

“We feel that by joining together, having similar goals and taking a collaborative approach to funding and policy, we will be more likely to succeed in the implementation of the CNG plans,” Ogburn indicated in his written proposal to the commissioners.

The city of Grand Junction and Mesa County have also expressed interest in a more regional effort. Others, such as Rio Blanco and Moffat counties, may be asked to participate as well.

“I’m very interested in this,” Garfield County Commissioner Mike Samson said. “Natural gas is a cleaner burning fuel, it’s plentiful in Garfield County, it’s cheaper, it provides jobs, and it’s a local product.

“And, we can set an example in what we do, by taking advantage of what’s available here for us to use,” he said.

Samson also suggested that Garfield Clean Energy present its ideas at the next meeting of the Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado, which includes Rio Blanco and Moffat county officials.

Ogburn said the effort would require a greater commitment from Garfield County in terms of staff time to help facilitate the efforts.

“If it goes outside of Garfield County, keep in mind that it’s also outside the scope of Garfield Clean Energy,” he said. For that reason, additional funding may also be necessary.

By collaborating with other counties, additional industry and government funding sources may also be identified, Ogburn said.

“By working together as multiple governments we can attract more attention, and be able to steer more funds,” he said.

In other business at the Monday BOCC meeting, the board:

• Heard a report from representatives of Williams Energy and its new spinoff company, WPX Energy. According to company spokespersons Susan Alvillar and Donna Gray, Williams will now be solely focused on the natural gas process and transmission aspects of the business, while WPX will handle drilling operations.

• Agreed to a five-year lease of 48 acres of agriculture land at the southeast corner of the Garfield County Regional Airport property outside Rifle to Michele Monger. The lease limits the use of the property to the keeping of livestock and related operations.

• Approved a contract with Clean Energy Economy for the Region (CLEER) to administer the remaining $219,655 of a Better Buildings Program grant. The original grant, awarded to Garfield County as a pass-through from Boulder and Denver counties, was for $543,000. Commissioners approved the contract on a 2-1 vote, with Commissioner Martin opposed on the grounds that it involved federal stimulus money.

• Approved on a 3-0 vote a service agreement with Eastern Research Group as part of the county’s ongoing air quality monitoring program.

jstroud@postindependent.com


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