Kanawha County, W. Va., is planning to convert a number of its fleet vehicles to operate on compressed natural gas (CNG) and is making progress toward this goal.

The County commission founded a consortium called Kanawha Converts in Jan. 2012 using $50,000 in seed money to get this project moving. The consortium’s members include representatives from the County commission, Charleston Area Alliance, Bridgemont Community and Technical College, the Kanawha Valley Regional Transportation Authority (KRT), and representatives from the state’s energy sector and private businesses.

So far, the consortium has conducted a market analysis to determine return on investment for area municipal and private-sector fleets. It identified specific vehicles in different fleets that could be converted. Kanawha County purchased a CNG bi-fueled 2013-MY Chevrolet Tahoe in August 2012 and received a donated CNG Fuel Maker from natural gas supplier IGS Energy. This unit will be installed at the County’s courthouse and will be used to fuel the CNG-fueled Tahoe. The County Sheriff’s Department also plans to purchase four CNG-fueled Chevrolet Tahoes, and the County commission approved the purchase at its Jan. 31 meeting, according to the commission’s meeting minutes.

In the region in general, the County said the consortium’s work on studying natural gas opportunities in the region contributed to a $10 million investment from IGS Energy to build three CNG stations along the I79 Corridor as well as one station in Charleston, W. Va.