Alternative Fuel Options Revealed

Last week The Coalition co-hosted a petroleum reduction seminar with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). The seminar took place at the Noble Historic Hotel down town Lander, WY. An interested audience composed of community members, business partners, and a handful of NOLS employees were there to learn more about options for incorporating alternative fuels in to their transportation sector. The all-day event hosted speakers from around the region sharing information and insights about several alternative fuels and petroleum reduction techniques.

One speaker in particular, Tad Pearson from Batelle Idaho National Laboratory gave his first hand experience transitioning his fleet to alternative fuels such as biodiesel and ethanol. He explained the economic benefits of the alternative fuels but also stated that transitioning to alternative fuels is “just the right thing to do”.

Next we heard from long-time Questar Natural Gas employee Gordon Larson. Larson shared his insights on the progression and future of Natural Gas in Wyoming. He specifically used the ‘Chicken and the egg’ philosophy as it relates to vehicles and fueling stations. He says we need to transition from which comes first and focus on providing the ‘feed’ or fuel for the vehicles. A similar idea verified by propane representative Baron Glassgow.

The presentations paused for a short intermission in which the attendees stepped outside to a parked display of alternative fuel vehicles. Larson showed off his Natural Gas truck and explained how he had installed his fuel tank where backseat passengers would normally sit as opposed to a tank in the truck bed. As Larson went to start the car, everyone braced for the loud roar of a diesel engine, but we were anything but startled, as the start of the natural gas engine kicking into gear was remarkably quiet.  

Next to Larson’s natural gas vehicle sat a Chevrolet Volt, one of the newest extended range electric vehicles on the market. The Volt has a sports car feel and I was reassured by Matt Shirk, its’ driver, that “it handled great on Teton Pass, in fact it even charged itself quite a bit going down the pass so we were able to run on only electricity through Grand Teton National Park”. The Volt has a technology called regenerative breaks that is able to store the car’s kinetic energy when slowing down the vehicle. On its drive from Idaho Falls National Laboratory, the Volt averaged 40mpg using a combination of electricity and petroleum fuel.

Overall this event was very informative and the showcase of alternative fuel vehicles was a great addition to the event.  A big THANK YOU to NOLS for helping us host such a successful event! Stay tuned for more events like this in the future.

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