Residents want compressed natural gas station back

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By David Giuliani

The city’s compressed natural gas station broke down a couple of weeks ago, and now residents are requesting the city find a way to get it back up and running.

Residents say it’s important to have the station that provides a relatively cheap fuel, especially as gas prices are rising toward $4 a gallon. They also argued that it’s a much cleaner energy.

Karan Plagge told the Las Vegas City Council last week that she is circulating a petition to demonstrate local interest in the station. The city government only has a couple of cars that run on compressed natural gas these days.

“As one of the Las Vegas citizens organizing this movement for alternative fuel, I would like to see the city develop a financially sustainable CNG fuel system,” she wrote in a letter.

Plagge told the council that CNG cars go many more miles over their lifetimes and that there isn’t much wear and tear on their engines. Besides, she said CNG would come from this country, not a foreign land.

George DuFour, the city’s utilities director, said the city needed $28,000 to get the gas station up and running. He said the city at first thought a particular private company would be interested in taking over the station, but that firm lost interest after it determined that there wasn’t enough demand for the fuel in Las Vegas.

Councilman Cruz Roybal said CNG was a good alternative to the conventional fuel, but he said the petroleum industry has fought off efforts to get CNG stations around the country. He also wondered what would happen to the price of the fuel if more people demanded it.

“If everyone used CNG, they would put up the price,” he said. “We have to tell people the truth.”

Officials have expressed concern that there wasn’t a mechanic in town who could work on CNG engines. But Plagge said she knew of one business that had such a certification.