Grant to encourage alternative-fuel use in vehicles

A newly announced grant will be used to help encourage use of alternative fuels in fleet vehicles in Mesa and Garfield counties.

The Refuel Colorado Fleets pilot project will be carried out by a $225,000 grant and also be undertaken in seven other Colorado counties. It will provide for “coaches” who will help business and government fleet owners work with auto dealers, fuel providers and others to pursue or expand use of alternative fuels such as compressed natural gas, electric or propane.

Heather McGregor, a spokeswoman with the Carbondale-based nonprofit Clean Energy Economy for the Region, which is leading the project, said it’s likely that the efforts in Garfield and Mesa counties will focus on CNG. That’s due to the level of gas production in the area, the amount of interest among businesses and local governments, and the existence of some CNG fueling stations, “but not enough yet to make it really viable to run CNG on vehicles all over the place,” she said.

Funding from the project comes from a $500,000 grant the U.S. Department of Energy provided to the Colorado Energy Office. The pilot project also will be conducted in Routt, Larimer, Boulder, Jefferson, Adams, Montezuma and La Plata counties.

Four nonprofits will provide the energy coaching, including Garfield Clean Energy in the case of Garfield and Mesa counties. The participating counties were selected based on fleet vehicle needs, auto dealer interest in alternative fuels and the viability of developing public refueling facilities, CLEER said in a news release.

“We’re just really looking forward to working with public and private sector fleet owners as well as auto dealers and fuel providers on this project and helping accelerate the shift to alternative fuels and reduce our use of imported petroleum,” McGregor said.

The coaching will make use of techniques CLEER already uses to help households and businesses carry out energy-efficiency upgrades of buildings. That coaching has resulted in at least 70 percent of participants following through in making upgrades, CLEER says.

Now, coaches will help entities determine whether they can save money through switching from petroleum fuel.

“We want to help them figure out if it makes sense to replace any of their vehicles with an alternative-fuel vehicle,” McGregor said.


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