Gas conversion funds eyed

01 04, 2012 by The Advocate

Project has April deadline

City-parish government is in line for $750,000 to fund the conversion of more vehicles to run on natural gas — money that comes on top of more than $2.5 million in federal and state funding that Lafayette already has received for natural gas conversions and a special station to fuel the vehicles.

The additional $750,000 is a federal grant routed through the state and is available to city-parish government if the conversions can be completed by the April deadline set for the grant program, which aims to encourage the use of natural gas as an alternative fuel.

The City-Parish Council approved budgeting $750,000 for the project Tuesday, a necessary step to move forward.

The grant money is by no means a sure thing, said Tony Tramel, city-parish director of traffic and transportation.

That’s because it will be a challenge to find a company able to do so many vehicle conversions on such short notice while meeting the legal requirement that the government project be put out on public bid, Tramel said.

City-parish government has received more than $2.5 million in federal grants and state appropriations to fund a natural gas fueling station and the conversion of 40 government vehicles to run off natural gas, which offers a cheaper and cleaner-burning alternative to gasoline and diesel.

The $750,000 would fund the conversion of about 65 more government vehicles, according to documents submitted to the council.

Tramel said the extra money is available for Lafayette because other areas have not moved as quickly on natural gas initiatives.

In other business before the council on Tuesday:

NEW OFFICERS: The board elected new officers for 2012, selecting Councilman Jared Bellard as chairman and Councilman William Theriot as vice chairman.

Bellard, who served as vice chairman last year, replaced former council Chairman Kenneth Boudreaux.

“It’s been a great ride, a very fun ride,” Boudreaux said.

NEW COUNCILMEN: Tuesday’s meeting was the first for two new councilmen: Councilman Kevin Naquin, of District 1, and Councilman Andy Naquin, of District 6.

Kevin Naquin replaced Mary Morrison, who was appointed to temporarily fill the seat after her husband, Purvis Morrison, left the council when elected mayor of Scott.

Kevin Naquin is a business development representative for U.S. Med-Equip, but he’s probably better known around Lafayette as the leader of the Cajun band Kevin Naquin and the Ossun Playboys.

Andy Naquin is a salesman for Doug Ashy Building Materials. He replaced Sam Dore, who lost his bid for re-election.