GREELEY, CO - Through a county-wide Smart Energy plan and with assistance from grant funding, Weld County in Colorado is implementing a natural gas vehicle fueling network that will allow the County to add more CNG vehicles to its fleet as well as enable energy companies and local businesses in Northern Colorado to transition CNG vehicles into their fleets.

Weld County currently operates four CNG vehicles -- a Ford Focus and three half-ton pickup trucks -- and plans to convert seven more vehicles to CNG this year. The County fuels its vehicles with its small fueling station.

Elizabeth Redford, transportation planner for the County, said the County has already received bid proposals from vendors for the seven vehicles, although it has yet to request bids for vehicle conversion kits. "We're working with the vendors to make sure they get us the correct engines so we can convert. Then we also have about a five-year plan that we've laid out for upgrading stations and adding more vehicles into the fleet over time," she said. Public Works and Building Inspection will use the mix of Ford F-150 trucks, a Ford Transit Connect van, and a GM Silverado. SEP (Supplemental Environment Projects) partly funds vehicle conversions.

According to Barbara Connolly, CPA, fleet manager and controller for the County, Weld County operates about 700 units and outsources all fleet maintenance. When vehicles are scheduled for replacement, Connolly looks at the fleet mix to determine where CNG vehicles will fit into the fleet. "Then we look at what other funding is out there, with grants, and say, can we get grants to supplement that? If not, there will be a County expenditure to cover that, because that's our normal rotation of vehicles," she said.

To fuel the additional CNG vehicles, the County has already acquired CMAQ (Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement) funds to update its fueling facility. "We applied for another $3.9 million through the North Front Range, but will not know until March how much we have been awarded to look at converting [additional] vehicles," Relford added. 

The County's Smart Energy plan, spearheaded by Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer, calls for an alternative fuel corridor of natural gas stations beginning with the construction of three to five stations.

On Jan. 31, the City received a bid for the construction of the first three CNG fueling stations. The bid is under review, and County Commissioners are expected to decide on the bid in February, Relford said. The County hopes to have the stations completed by the end of the year.

Relford said they hope to get another station under contract by this summer for a total of four stations.

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