Compressed natural gas station to reopen soon
The Salt Lake Tribune
May 21, 2009
Questar Gas plans to reopen its compressed natural gas station in Sandy on June 1, making it easier for those who rely on the alternative fuel to fill up.
The station at 9150 S. 500 West caught fire a year ago and has been closed since. Rather than simply repair and reopen the station within months, Questar elected take it offline for a longer period to upgrade the station and increase its capacity.
The station has double the capacity it did before, meaning it can accommodate more motorists, more quickly.
"The station is much better able to meet the demand for natural gas," said Questar spokesman Darren Shepherd.
Robin Erickson, director of the Utah Clean Cities Coalition, which advocates the use of alternative fuels, said she will be glad to see the station come back online given the limited supply of CNG refueling stations, compared with standard gas stations.
Statewide, there are only about 25 natural gas filling stations, operated by either Questar or the state, that are open to the public.
"You have to have the infrastructure (of stations)" so that more people will elect to purchase vehicles that run on the clean-burning alternative fuel, Erickson said.
In addition to being easier on the environment and being a domestically produced fuel, compressed natural gas is cheaper than standard unleaded gasoline, retailing for about 97 cents per equivalent gallon.
When gasoline prices in Utah's peaked last July at $4.22 per gallon, many Utahns scrambled to acquire vehicles that can run on CNG or had their current vehicles converted to run on the fuel. That demand has dampened a bit since gasoline prices fell below $2 per gallon (Utah's unleaded average is above the $2 mark).
But interest in the CNG -- and cars that run on the fuel -- is still high in the state because of its low price.
Today, an estimated 7,500 cars in the state are either bifuel -- meaning they can be powered by either gasoline or CNG -- or powered only by CNG.
Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. is a fan. Earlier this year, Huntsman, who drives a CNG-powered Suburban, said he was working to increase the number of natural gas fueling stations. As part of that effort, he has designated Interstate 15 from Idaho to Arizona as a natural gas-vehicle corridor.
In addition to new refueling sites for southern Utah, work is under way to increase capacity at existing stations along the Wasatch Front. It wasn't uncommon when gas prices were in the $4 range for there to be long lines at some CNG refueling sites such as the one in Sandy.
Shepherd said in addition to the Sandy station, the fueling capacity at stations in Ogden, Woods Cross and Orem will be increased.
Although the yearlong wait was inconvenient for some, he said the upgrades will benefit many. "We appreciate [CNG] motorists' patience through this process," he said.
Want more information about vehicles that run on compressed natural gas? Go to Questargas.com and click on "Natural Gas for Vehicles."
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