WARREN - Trumbull County Engineer Randy Smith's Office has secured a state grant to help the county explore what he's calling a ''larger scale'' study of compressed natural gas use.
''This is really to help facilitate this being a countywide initiative and looking at it from a comprehensive, countywide standpoint,'' said Smith of the proposal, among 10 awarded either grant money or a loan by the Ohio Development Services Agency.
The $100,000 Local Government Innovation Fund grant will be used to hire a consultant to coordinate the study and do ''a lot of input seeking'' from local governments and ''reaching out'' to the private sector, Smith said.
He sees the study looking at existing and needed infrastructure, potential locations for a CNG fueling station and cost savings to communities that want in. So far, Smith said, about 20 governments and businesses in Trumbull County have signed on as partners.
''This will really start to pull the communities together, to learn about their interest, to learn about their fleet operations, to pull the private sector in to look at conversions,'' Smith said.
Wednesday's announcement happened as officials continue to wait on word for another request $1.25 million from Ohio's capital budget to build a compressed natural gas fueling station. Smith and county commissioners already have pledged $500,000 - $125,000 each annually over the next two years - if the request is filled, that would be used on other related expenses, like matching money for grants and loans that promote the use of compressed natural gas.
The local dollars also could be used for maintenance, converting the county's fleet to run on the alternative fuel and vehicle housing.
And these efforts could get a boost with legislation in the Ohio House that would offer tax incentives for purchasing a vehicle that runs on CNG.