Southwestern Energy and the City of Conway will host a grand opening of SWN’s Compressed Natural Gas Station today at 3 p.m.

The station consists of two self service CNG pumps with credit card capabilities that will be monitored through video surveillance.

SWN President and CEO Steve Mueller, SWN COO Bill Way, Conway Mayor Tab Townsell and Sen. Jason Rapert will speak this afternoon about what building CNG infrastructure means to central Arkansas.

"One of the biggest benefits is the gas we’re selling is from the Fayetteville Shale which is employing over 1,400 people," said Christina Fowler, SWN communications specialist. "When you use CNG, you’re directly supporting Conway jobs."

SWN employees, the Conway Police Department and the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce will bring their CNG compatible vehicles to demonstrate how to use the new CNG fueling stations.

Fowler said there are a lot of people who are already taking advantage of CNG, but by showcasing the demand, she said, it is starting to become more prevalent that infrastructure is needed.

Donny McCallum, SWN midstream planning supervisor, said if the infrastructure is built, in the end the demand will materialize.

On a daily basis, SWN has 200 to 300 CNG-compatible trucks next door to the station at SWN’s regional headquarters giving the company an internal demand that could solely support the station, he said.

But data from SWN’s station in Damascus shows 50 percent of demand comes from outside fleet vehicles, McCallum said.

The industry has been stuck in a state of limbo asking "the chicken and egg question" of which comes first, he said.

In order to build infrastructure, companies feel like there needs to be more CNG vehicles on the streets, but in order for there to be more vehicles there needs to be a network of fueling stations, McCallum explained.

"Since 2009, we’ve seen an almost 10 percent increase of public stations," he said. "You’re starting to see an investment."

In February of 2012, 12 SWN employees received CNG-powered vehicles for personal use. Those employees have been invited to the event for a free fill up to demonstrate consumer use.

Fowler said after SWN gave away the CNG vehicles, many community members had questions about the vehicles, the fueling process and the benefits of CNG.

"We thought by having this grand opening people could see it, touch it and get comfortable with this alternative fuel," she said.

The price during the grand opening is expected to be $1.50 per gas gallon equivalent, Fowler said.

The station is located at 2125 Sanders Rd. near SWN’s regional headquarters at The Village at Hendrix.

T-shirts with "Go Natural" insignia will be given to the first 500 attendees on a first come first serve basis to commemorate the event.

(Staff writer Michelle Corbet can be reached by email at michelle.corbet@thecabin.net or by phone at 505-1215. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)