Oklahoma House Speaker Chris Benge and Apache Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer G. Steven Farris highlight the state’s incentives for using abundant, cleaner-burning natural gas in transportation.
Benge, R-Tulsa, filled his Chevrolet Impala fueled with compressed natural gas at Apache’s CNG refueling station at the company’s district office in Elk City.
The station – Apache’s first – has capacity to refuel 100 vehicles a day. Initially, it will be used to fuel more than 40 Apache field vehicles that are being equipped to run on CNG.
“When we put tax incentives in place earlier this year to encourage natural gas usage as a transportation fuel in our state, this type of project is exactly what we had in mind,” Benge said. “Apache has made a private financial commitment to CNG by building this station and in the process is helping reduce our country’s dependence on foreign oil. I am hopeful that the legislation we put in place will continue to help build CNG infrastructure and encourage the use of local energy resources, which will be a benefit to our state’s economy as a whole. Oklahoma is poised to lead the way nationally in alternative-fuel vehicles, and this legislation is only the beginning. We must secure our energy future in order to secure our economic future.”
Apache built its first refueling station in Oklahoma because the state’s incentives improved the economic return for the project, Farris said. Apache, which is fueling its CNG field vehicles with gas produced from the company’s wells in western Oklahoma, is planning to build two additional CNG refueling stations in the state.
Apache also is exploring ways to coordinate its CNG refueling program with state agencies, local governments and other CNG fleet operators, Farris said.
“The biggest obstacle to expanding the use of CNG right now is the lack of refueling infrastructure; that’s why we built our own station. The private sector could build adequate infrastructure to fuel many of the nation’s public and private vehicle fleets, but policy makers in Washington and other states need to follow Oklahoma’s lead and consider appropriate incentives to accelerate development. We appreciate Speaker Benge’s leadership in expanding and extending the incentives.”
“Using domestic natural gas makes sense because it creates jobs in this country, reduces greenhouse-gas emissions, and reduces our dependence on imported oil,” Farris said.
House Bill 1949 uses free market incentives to secure the state’s role in the alternative energy market. The legislation extends a significant tax credit to offset the cost of converting a vehicle to run on compressed natural gas or other alternative fuels plus a $2,500 tax credit for installing home-fueling CNG stations.
House Bill 1952 seeks to help expand the number of vehicles in the state running on alternative fuels such as CNG. The legislation will also help expand the number of publicly available fueling stations across the state. The bill allows the Department of Central Services to provide fleet services to schools, counties and municipal governments and to provide public access to alternative fueling infrastructure in underserved areas.
The State Fleet Management Fund was amended to allow money from the fund to be used to build alternative fueling infrastructure or to acquire alternative fuel vehicles for use by state agencies or to lease to political subdivisions. The bill states that money from lease payments would be deposited into the fund. The allowable loan amount out of the fund for a fill station will increase to $300,000, and a current cap of $10,000 per vehicle conversion will remain intact. The bill also repeals cost-prohibitive California Air Resources Board emission limits, and instead defers to emissions standards put in place by the federal Environmental Protection Agency. This change will make conversions easier and less cost-prohibitive but would still keep federal standards in place on all conversion kits.