Government and industry officials are cheering plans for a compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling corridor stretching from Pennsylvania into West Virginia along Route 79. It will support the Marcellus shale gas-inspired initiatives for converting hundreds of vehicles to operate on natural gas.

IGS Energy CNG Services on Thursday launched a $10 million effort to develop the CNG fueling network starting in the first quarter this year, including three stations in West Virginia and one in Pennsylvania. IGS called it a first-of-a-kind initiative in West Virginia, where Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin established a statewide task force in 2011 to develop more use of natural gas vehicles (NGV).

“These soon-to-be new filling stations along I-79 are the beginning of the infrastructure necessary to support our state’s conversion to NGVs,” Tomblin said.

Targeting stations for Bridgeport, Charleston and Jane Lew, WV, and Mt. Morris, PA, IGS Energy’s CNG unit aims to support “the growing number of West Virginia businesses and citizens” converting to NGVs as a “way to save money and switch to a clean West Virginia fuel.”

The stations were billed as being conveniently located and allowing drivers to fill up in about the same time it takes with conventional gasoline-powered vehicles. “Vehicles fueled by natural gas are becoming an increasingly popular transportation option,” said Scott White, president of IGS Energy CNG Services.

The stations will support light, medium and heavy duty vehicles, an IGS spokesperson said. Several companies have committed to fuel their NGV fleet vehicles along the corridor, including Antero Resources, Chesapeake Energy Corp. and EQT Corp. The West Virginia Department of Highways also has pledged to fuel its vehicles in the corridor.

Each of those companies’ senior executives endorsed IGS Energy’s plans. White noted that the company chose to concentrate its efforts in West Virginia because of Tomblin and the state legislature’s decision to implement economic policies encouraging the development of the CNG industry.

With the West Virginia effort, consumers will not only save money, but the state will serve “as an excellent opportunity to encourage further development of natural gas fueling options,” White said.

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