Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Growth of State Alternative Fuels Programs Sought

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Growth of State Alternative Fuels Programs Sought

Article excerpt

Journal Record Staff Reporter

Expansion, not contraction, of Oklahoma's model alternative fuels program was encouraged Thursday by industry leaders, who urged state lawmakers to extend incentives and do even more.

"Don't mess up a good thing," said Steve Meston, president of Tri-Fuels Inc. in Edmond, at the Joint Interim Committee on Alternative Fuels meeting.

"We don't want to back off just as the rest of the world is beginning to catch on."

The interim panel is chaired by Sen. Ed Long, D-Garber, and Rep. Mike Tyler, D-Sapulpa. At its first meeting Thursday, comments were heard from the state's compressed natural gas industry. At the next meeting, Nov. 18, Tyler said the panel will listen to views of leaders in other alternative fuels, propane and liquefied natural gas.

CNG is the premier alternative fuel of choice in Oklahoma, although the state program is fuel neutral; there are about 1,300 CNG vehicles in the state, but also some 16,000 propane vehicles. The state program, which offers a 50 percent tax credit and no-interest loans from a $1.5 million revolving fund for vehicle conversions and fueling facility installation, began in 1990.

Moreover, industry leaders said Oklahoma's program is at the forefront nationwide. Home-state accolades were augmented, with compliments from Gil Spurling of the American Gas Association in Washington, D.C., who said Oklahoma's program was "clearly a model."

But there are still needs in the fledgling industry, lawmakers were told. Among the most frequently mentioned were: Extension of the 50 percent tax credit, which is due to drop to 20 percent in 1995.

"Government has lead the way, as it should," Spurling said. "The role of government is to stimulate private industry." An investment fund to pool capital to make loans for CNG fueling stations and fleet conversions, to be administered by a private investment firm. Another remedy suggested for fueling station costs was to allow gas utilities to form joint ventures and include the investment in its rate base. More state government fleet conversions, preferably in a separate and exclusive allocation from general state revenues, the Rainy Day Fund or a new tax. …

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