Vehicles powered by alternative fuels will become increasingly accessible to consumers in Arizona as the technology advances and fueling stations grow in number.
That was one of the messages to come from a conference Thursday on cleanburning fuels and alternative vehicles sponsored by Gateway Community College and a group promoting the use of alternative fuels.
Bill Sheaffer, executive director of the Clean Cities Coalition, which co-sponsored the National Alternative Fuel Odyssey event, said it’s difficult for owners of vehicles that use alternative-fuel sources like compressed natural gas or hydrogen to find filling stations. He said that will change as the cars and trucks become more popular.
“The purpose of this event is to show the public what kinds of clean burning vehicles are available,” Sheaffer said.
About 40 people attended the showcase at the Gateway campus at 40th and Van Buren streets in Phoenix.
The coalition, which is a public and private partnership chartered by the U.S. Department of Energy, promotes the use of natural gas, ethanol, propane, hydrogen and biodiesel to fuel vehicles. It also promotes the use of hybrid vehicles among other alternatives to the exclusive use of gasoline.
Some of the vehicles displayed at the event that are available to the public were hybrid vehicles like Ford’s Escape sports utility vehicle, and the new 2007 Honda Civic, which uses compressed natural gas to operate.
Sheaffer, who was the keynote speaker at the conference, said he hopes to start sponsoring the event annually.
“We’re talking about our health, the economy and our dependance on foreign oil,” Sheaffer said. “We have an opportunity to reach people."
The college was one of several locations throughout the country hosting similar events.
Attendees were able to mill around the campus and see the various forms of vehicles that don’t rely exclusively on the use of gasoline.
Brian Cassidy, a 48-yearold Gilbert resident, said he has owned some form of alternative-fuel vehicle since 2001. Cassidy said he currently owns a Honda Civic GX, which is powered by compressed natural gas, as well as a pickup truck that he runs on biodiesel fuel.
He said he has several reason for buying alternativefuel vehicles, ranging from a belief that he shouldn’t buy foreign oil to a desire to contribute to a cleaner environment.
“I’m just a typical guy,” he said. “I’m not an engineer, I’m not a scientist. But this stuff interests me and its important to me. I would consider it immoral not to buy this stuff, since it is available and it’s affordable.”
Tempe resident Kirsten Joan, 37, expressed similar sentiments. Joan said she’s plans to buy an alternativefuel vehicle and attended the conference to learn about the various options available to the public.
“I’m leaning more toward the electrical vehicles,” she said.