Grants & Loans Expand Use of Natural Gas

(KCPW News) A number of businesses, Salt Lake City and the University of Utah have been awarded about $500,000 in grants and loans from the Utah Division of Air Quality to increase the use of natural gas in transportation. Lisa Burr, Senior Research Analyst for the division, says the money comes from a clean fuels grant and loan program funded by a petroleum settlement the state won years ago. Several types of energy qualify for the program, but Burr says natural gas is wildly popular in the state.

“…because it’s so abundant here in the state and convenient and significantly cheaper than gasoline or diesel and much cleaner.” She says. For all of those reasons it makes choosing natural gas as a transportation choice a common sense approach.”

University of Utah Commuter Services will buy two natural gas buses, Salt Lake City will buy three garbage trucks fueled by natural gas, and several businesses will build natural gas fueling stations across the state. Burr says natural gas will become more widely available to the public.

“It encourages the infrastructure of having refueling stations throughout the state.” Burr says. “I believe there’s about 19, but one of the things that this grant provides is funds to increase that to make it more convenient for people who choose to use natural gas to refuel.”

Burr says she recently priced compressed natural gas at $1.27, compared to a gallon of gasoline at $3.50. She notes tax credits are available for people who go through an EPA-certified conversion from gasoline to natural gas.