AUBURN — A company with a plan to make natural gas an option for rural Maine fleets will make a teleconference pitch to a state municipal coalition April 15.

The Maine Clean Communities group will host a meeting at 9 a.m. Wednesday, April 15, in the Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments office, 125 Manley Road. It will hear a report from Kevin Stockton of NEOgas, a Brazilian-based company.

Fleet operators — including transit services, trash collectors or private delivery services — need to make sure their drivers have reliable access to refuel their vehicles in the field, according to Steve Linnell of Maine Clean Communities.

Compressed natural gas is an option, and Linnell said the Maine group has helped Portland’s Metro bus service and Portland schools convert some of its vehicles.

“It’s one thing in an urban area because they may have natural gas pipelines that they can hook up to their house or their business,” Linnell said. “But there are fleets outside of these urban areas that could really benefit from natural gas.”

Linnell said Stockton’s company says it has a solution.

“This company has a service hauling fuel and just delivering it,” Linnell said. “They have a way of doing this that is more efficient and they claim works better.”

The meeting is open to the public, but attendees should RSVP by emailing [email protected]

The Maine group is part of a federal Department of Energy program meant to help communities reduce their petroleum use. In Maine, the coalition is managed by the Greater Portland Council of Governments.

“We are a statewide coalition, and we try and move around the state occasionally,” Linnell said. 

He said in the past the coalition has promoted efforts to stop idling and making sure drivers have the right vehicle for the job.

“We’ve done strategies all aimed at reducing fuel use, but it’s really petroleum fuel use we are trying to target,” Linnell said. “We are still importing about 50 percent of our petroleum and most of that goes to transportation.”

The group has worked to promote alternative fuel sources, from systems that burn recycled cooking oil in place of diesel, electric vehicles and ones that burn propane or compressed natural gas.

“We primarily work with fleets,” he said. “Building infrastructure to fuel those vehicles is the big challenge.”

[email protected]

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