City and county officials Tuesday celebrated the start of construction on Pueblo’s first compressed natural gas filling station.
A few dozen people gathered at a former Cliff Brice filling station on Fourth Street to turn the first shovels of ceremonial dirt, part of an effort to encourage local fleets to convert to compressed natural gas and local consumers to consider using the alternative fuel.
“Natural gas is a very versatile fuel and can power anything from a Honda Civic to a railroad car to marine vessel to an oil rig,” said Norman Herrera of Sparq Natural Gas, which is developing the project.
Acorn Petroleum will operate the filling station and the project was made possible through grant money from the Colorado Energy Office.
Wes Maurer, transportation program manager for the energy office, told the crowd that the Pueblo station will help complete a grid of natural gas filling stations throughout the state and will be the first station between Colorado Springs and Albuquerque, N.M.
“The benefits are immense,” Maurer said of a CNG station, including promoting Colorado’s natural gas industry and reducing noxious emissions from vehicles on the road.
Maurer also noted that CNG vehicles have similar performance to the petroleum counterparts.
Pueblo County was a partner in the grant award and will participate in the program by converting many of its fleet vehicles to the CNG.
The county itself received a grant from the Department of Local Affairs to convert vehicles and the county has money in its budget to start work on eight this year.
Commission Chairwoman Liane “Buffie” McFadyen spoke about President Dwight Eisenhower’s vision of the Interstate system as an important part of the nation’s defense and said the new station helps achieve those goals.
“This natural gas fueling station ensures that vision by getting people across the state driving in CNG vehicles,” McFadyen said.
She said the county was serious about converting its existing fleet to natural gas. Carl Chavez, fleet director for the county, said he’s committed to converting every new vehicle.
“We hope this is going to turn the city around along with the state of Colorado,” Chavez said.
City Council President Steve Nawrocki said he was looking forward to working with the county on the fleet conversion and Phyllis Samora of the Greater Pueblo Chamber of Commerce said it’s something the chamber can start to promote.
While much of the discussion was about converting fleets to CNG, the station will be available to the public as well. It’s expected to be complete by July 4.
This article was written by Jeff Tucker from The Pueblo Chieftain, Colo. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.