Virginia Lawmakers: Converting Fleets to Autogas “Makes a Lot of Sense”

Governor Bob McDonnell has said he wants to make Virginia the energy capital of the East Coast. (image: wjla.com)

Following the latest General Assembly session, Virginia lawmakers announced plans to extensively expand the state’s use of alternative fuels, especially propane and natural gas, for its 10,000-vehicle fleet, the Williamsburg Yorktown Daily reported. According to the proposal, officials could reach out to fuel suppliers and car manufacturers as early as this month to get the ball rolling. The goal is to put Virginians to work while improving air quality and saving taxpayer dollars.

“We think Virginia is doing its part by converting from gasoline that comes in part from foreign countries to either natural gas or electricity or propane or hydrogen or some other fuel will show that we’re serious about American energy independence,” said Governor Bob McDonnell. McDonnell has long advocated increased domestic production from a range of energy sources, including offshore oil drilling, nuclear power, biomass, and offshore wind farms.

The governor said he wants a majority of the 4,000 state-operated vehicles to run on natural gas or propane autogas. However, he also stated some vehicles, like state police cars, aren’t good candidates for alternative fuel – McDonnell’s reasoning on this is unclear, since police forces in other states are having notable success saving taxpayer money by switching to autogas.

As we’ve heard before, a limited amount of alternative fueling stations could inhibit the project, at least at first. Several delegates expressed concern the state doesn’t yet have the infrastructure to make electric, autogas, and natural gas a practical option for drivers. However, Virginia recently passed a bill allowing large retailers like Walmart to offer charging stations for electric car drivers, a move that will likely pave the way for other types alternative fueling stations as well.

“It’s a win that the energy is created here, a win that the jobs are going to be created here,” said Delegate Danny Marshall. “And the other win is that we are not sending our money to the Middle East. I just think it makes a lot of sense.”

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