Lawmakers, Leaders Talk Alternative Fuels to Drive Economy
KREX News Room
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - Two Western Slope lawmakers brought together energy leaders from around the state Friday.
Representatives Ray Scott, R-Grand Junction, and Don Coram, R-Montrose, hosted an event at Colorado Mesa University on the latest alternative fuel technologies.
A round table discussion featuring the top energy experts in the state was capped off with an outdoor demonstration on the various alternative fuel technologies available to today's driver.
"There is so much more to this technology than, I think, what the general public knows," said Rose Pugliese, Mesa County Commissioner for District 3.
Officials say continuing to develop alternative fuel automotives is one way to add jobs and drive the local economy.
Scott believes the key to doing that is public awareness.
"You can contact your local dealerships here in Grand Junction. They stock these vehicles and can answer a lot of questions for you," explained Scott.
Officials also hope to sculpt some legislation out of these meetings of the minds.
"What we were thinking about and talking about is, 'What type of incentives can we put in place to get the consumers out there, as well as fleet operators, to look more closely at alternate fuels?'" added Scott.
Discussions Friday were on electric, compressed natural gas, propane and diesel vehicles, the latter of which officials say have gotten 99 percent cleaner in the past five years.
"I don't recommend anybody try it at home, but you can literally breathe from the tail pipe of the exhaust and get cleaner air than you would in downtown LA," said Tim Jackson, president of the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association.
And then there's propane.
"Current price for propane for vehicles in Colorado might be $1.75 or $2 per gallon," explained Larry Osgood, propane automobile gas coordinator for the Colorado Propane Gas Association.
Compressed Natural Gas provides a cleaner alternative to gasoline, but there is currently only one one fill station in Grand Junction.
An electric vehicle is cleaner still, but full-electric cars only drive about 77 miles before needing a recharge.
Officials say, these are all factors to keep in mind when considering present-day solutions to the question of how to jump-start the local economy.
Coram emphasized traditional coal and gasoline as important resources to continue using as new technologies solidify.
"It puts $1.1 billion a year into the Colorado economy," said Coram.
Ultimately, officials say balancing commerce with clean air is the name of the game.
Friday's event is the first in a series scheduled for this summer, including stops in Denver and Colorado Springs.