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posted: 6/22/2012 2:16 PM

Summit to cover natural gas fleet possibilities

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To get a natural gas filling station in Elgin, people need to be driving vehicles that run on natural gas. To get people interested in buying or converting vehicles to run on the alternative fuel, they need to know they'll have a place to fill their tanks.

Members of the Elgin Area Natural Gas Vehicle Coalition are hoping a June 27 summit will help solve that conundrum and get the ball rolling on the supply and demand sides all at once.

"It kind of has to happen at the same time," said Rich Hirschberg, a founding partner of the coalition.

The natural gas vehicle summit will start at 10 a.m. June 27 in the Eagle Lounge of Lindner Tower at Judson University, 1151 N. State St., Elgin, where Hirschberg works and serves as Green Team chairman, focusing on sustainability issues.

Hirschberg said private and public fleet managers have been invited from throughout the Fox Valley to learn about the costs of switching to compressed natural gas vehicles -- whether that means buying new or converting.

A representative from Advance Fueling Consultants, another partner in the Elgin area coalition, will discuss technology and conversions for natural gas vehicles. Someone from the Gas Technology Institute will cover infrastructure and public access. A Chicago Area Clean Cities Coalition member will outline grants and funding sources to help offset costs of switching, and an Illinois Environmental Protection Agency representative will discuss state issues on the topic.

Presentations will be followed by a question-and-answer session where participants can further explore switching to natural gas vehicles.

"We want them leaving with a pretty good understanding of whether NGV's will work for them or not," Hirschberg said.

A positive response from the summit will give the Elgin Area Natural Gas Vehicle Coalition a basis for pushing for a local filling station.

The ultimate goal, Hirschberg said, is to get as many fleets and individuals using natural gas vehicles as possible, allowing the country to reduce its dependence on foreign oil and switch to a cleaner-burning fuel.

The summit is free and open to anyone interested. It should last about two hours. Contact Hirschberg at (847) 628-2065 or to RSVP.

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