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INNOVA supports natural gas vehicle conversion facility

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INNOVA Commercialization Group announced Jan. 28 that it has provided financing to Alternative Fuel Solutions of West Virginia, for a facility that converts aftermarket vehicles to operate on natural gas, propane, and other alternative fuels. 

INNOVA believes for two reasons that the facility will succeed, according to INNOVA Director Guy Peduto. 

"The first is the obvious desire to find a more cost-effective fuel solution for fleet vehicles," Peduto said. "And second, the very attractive West Virginia tax credits specific to alternative fuel conversions that are available."

West Virginia's 2011 Marcellus Gas Manufacturing and Development Act provides several incentives to stimulate investment into shale gas utilization. Those who convert vehicles to operate on certain alternative fuels at a facility such as the one proposed by AFSWV may qualify for state tax credits of 50 percent of the cost of conversion up to $7,500, or up to $25,000 for large industrial vehicles.

A low-interest loan from the INNOVA Commercialization Group relies on funds from the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, and those funds are matched through the West Virginia Capital Access Program, according to Peduto.

AFSWV is made up of local entrepreneurs and investors in alliance with Alternative Fuel Solutions of Pennsylvania, which operates a similar facility in Mahaffey, Pa.

Like that facility, the Morgantown location will offer EPA-certified Compressed Natural Gas, or CNG, systems, diesel dual-fuel retrofits and propane conversions.

The conversion process involves adding an alternative fuel storage tank and, in some cases, a new fuel injection system. Other adaptations involve modifying the vehicle's computer system to accommodate the alternative fuel.

"We are in a fantastic position to take advantage of a local workforce utilizing abundant and inexpensive fuels produced right here in West Virginia," said Travis Buggey, a partner in AFSWV — "not to mention the bonuses of reducing environmental emissions and creating jobs."

At current prices, fleet owners save 35 percent on fuel costs on average by switching to an alternative domestic fuel before factoring in state tax credits, according to Alternative Fuel Solutions of Pennsylvania co-founder James O'Donnell.

Alternative Fuel Solutions of West Virginia, LLC will hold a ground breaking of its new Morgantown facility in March.

INNOVA is an initiative of the West Virginia High Technology Consortium Foundation. For information contact INNOVA Director Guy Peduto at (304) 333-6769 or at gpeduto@wvhtf.org.