By Katie Demeria
FRONT ROYAL -- Warren County may be one of the first areas along the Interstate 81 corridor to support a natural gas station.
InterChange Group Inc. is a warehousing company based out of Harrisonburg that has been in the area since 2006. The company currently owns a warehouse on Toray Drive.
Company president Devon Anders presented his request for a conditional use permit to build a compressed natural gas station near the north side of Toray Drive this week at the Warren County Planning Commission's meeting.
The request to hold a public hearing regarding the project was unanimously approved by the board.
"We're very entrepreneurial, and we see this as an opportunity that is out there for an alternative fuel that seems to be taking hold," Anders said. "We think it could be a good thing for Warren County."
He added that, as of now, the fuel is largely popular with trucking companies.
The company will work with Warren County Fire and Rescue, he added, to handle any safety concerns, as well.
In its application, InterChange states that compressed natural gas is a cleaner type of fuel, powered by green energy.
"The proposed station will be an un-manned, card access station," the proposal states. "Customers will enter the station either from Toray Drive or Winchester Road and will fuel in similar times as gas and diesel stations."
The station will not have a convenience store attached to it, Anders said, unlike a typical gas station. Drivers are usually trained to deal with the gas themselves. InterChange's other facilities, however, will be just across the street, so the company's personnel will be available if needed for maintenance or other issues.
Anders presented a packet about the energy to the board on Wednesday and was joined by a representative from Universal Air and Gas Products Corporation. InterChange Group has teamed up with that corporation to work on the proposed station.
The packet states that natural gas is inherently clean and very safe -- the non-toxic substance is lighter than air and dissipates when released.
It also points out that the United States uses 23 percent of the world's petroleum, a number that will only increase with time. It offers compressed natural gas as a positive alternative.
"CNG burns a lot cleaner than diesel or gasoline, so it's much better for the environment," Anders said.
The fuel is increasingly gaining more attention within the trucking industry.
"At least once a week I have an article coming across my desk in a trade publication talking about CNG, so it's very big in the industry right now," he said.
The fuel is not very popular with passenger vehicles yet, he added, but it could become so.
"We think it is going to be the fuel of the future for cars and trucks," Anders said.
Contact staff writer Katie Demeria at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or firstname.lastname@example.org