CNG may be gaining traction among automakers
BY ROD WALTON World Staff Writer
Thursday, September 20, 2012
9/20/12 at 2:59 AM
Read more about Oklahoma’s energy industry.
Compressed natural gas, already a growing part of government fleets throughout Oklahoma, finally may be gaining traction among the nation's automotive movers and shakers, Gov. Mary Fallin said Wednesday.
A partnership forged among other producing states' leaders, including Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, is focused on helping grow demand for CNG vehicles. The group has even gotten feedback from Detroit's vehicle industry on possibly building more CNG cars and trucks, Fallin said during the keynote address of the first CNG Summit.
"We are moving the needle," Fallin told the sold-out crowd at the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa Schusterman Center. "We are in a game-changer moment."
Oklahoma, Colorado and 20 other states already are converting or planning to convert many of their fleet vehicles to run on CNG. The fuel, as often noted, reduces carbon emissions, costs less to burn and is now abundant domestically.
Natural gas infrastructure and demand are the key barriers to overcome, proponents say. Local companies such as Tulsa Gas Technologies and Arrow Engine manufacture fueling dispensers and compressors, respectively, while Apache Corp., OnCue and Love's are among those building stations in Tulsa and elsewhere.
So demand still remains the greatest need, Fallin and others argued. She spearheaded the multi-state leaders' recent trip to Detroit asking if automakers might respond to fleet needs by building CNG vehicles across several platforms.
Thirteen states promised to pool orders for those vehicles, thus hoping to create a market that the Big Three automakers and Honda will want to fill. The Detroit companies responded with their own request for proposals and seem interested in developing a fledgling CNG fleet market.
Fallin also touted efforts she helped lead to get the Environmental Protection Agency's new federal fuel efficiency standards to offer less favor toward incentives for electric vehicles over other types of alternatives.
"We wrote them that (the Corporate Average Fuel Economy rules) need to be technology neutral," she said. "They changed it back with something more neutral."
Tulsa Metro Chamber Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Chris Benge, the former House speaker who introduced Fallin at Wednesday's event, praised her for making those CNG inroads. Benge has been a long-time proponent of CNG fleet conversions, incentives and infrastructure.
"This is really something to celebrate," he said. "Watching the momentum build is exciting."
The first annual CNG Summit, sponsored by Tulsa Gas Technologies, offered an all-day agenda including a roundtable of government and business officials who've led successful fleet conversions. An outdoor showcase of CNG vehicles also was arrayed in the parking lot just outside the campus' Founder's Hall.
Original Print Headline: CNG outlook growing in auto circles
Rod Walton 918-581-8457
Gov. Mary Fallin speaks during the CNG Summit at the Schusterman Learning Center on the campus of OU-Tulsa. MICHAEL WYKE / Tulsa World