Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Station opens Uinta Basin to clean-car enthusiasts

The Uinta Basin is suddenly on the map of destinations for drivers of compressed natural gas vehicles, now that Questar Gas and partners have opened a first Utah fueling station well away from the Interstate 15 corridor. Motorists who use the clean-air alternative to gasoline previously were confined to the state’s main north-south transportation artery, able to range from the Wasatch Front all the way to Southern California but not into Utah’s eastern hinterlands and beyond. That changes with the Western Petroleum station in Naples, just south of Vernal, which celebrates its grand opening today .

“You’ll be able to get into Colorado, which you never could before,” said Carrie Giles, northern coordinator for the Utah Clean Cities Coalition, a partner in the project. “This absolutely opens it up. We’re trying to get it out there so you can travel the entire state and more.”

It’s still unlikely that drivers could get from Salt Lake City to Denver unless they have a bi-fuel vehicle and can switch to a gasoline tank. But Giles said Colorado has a coalition committed to rapid expansion of the CNG fueling network, and such a corridor likely will be completed soon. Meantime, Clean Cities and Questar are committed to making a new push along Interstate 80 at the Wyoming and Nevada state lines, giving Utahns another east-west CNG route.

Clean Cities used part of a $15 million federal grant to pay a little more than a quarter of the cost for Questar to install two pumps, able to fuel four vehicles at a time, in Naples. The exact cost was unavailable Tuesday, but Giles said it was roughly $500,000. The Deseret News