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Talking Policy

Posted by: Charlotte Hickcox on Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Are Natural Gas Vehicles the Next Big Thing?

Hundreds gathered yesterday at the Ohio State University to participate in the first Natural Gas Summit, hosted by ANGA (America’s Natural Gas Alliance) and the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO). Throughout the day, the underlying issue kept coming back to the age old question, which comes first, the filling stations or the use of vehicles that run on natural gas?

Vehicles that run on natural gas (NGV) have many benefits according to industry leaders, including being cleaner and better for our environment as well as more cost effective given the low price for natural gas compared to oil. Additionally, it relies on a domestically produced resource; a resource that Ohio is discovering is abundant in the depths below our rolling hills.

Like any emerging technology that relies on demand from consumers, natural gas filling stations are slow to pop up in Ohio. Currently there are 19 stations across the state. While the general public demand for cars is slow to grow, business fleets are quickly seeing the viable economic reality of converting over to natural gas. Those businesses and industries that have a home base, i.e. return to home multiple times during the day and at night, are ideal for conversion according to presenters at the Summit. Some of the first to switch over have been public transportation buses and large trucks used for refuse hauling.

While the initial investment can be costly for businesses to convert their fleets (anything that uses diesel can be converted) for natural gas use, the return of savings usually means that they are seeing return of their investments within a few years as NGVs can save between 20 and 40 percent on fuel costs.

Highlighting the need for businesses to be on the forefront, driving this technology, Governor John Kasich stressed that the use of natural gas vehicles can be nothing but beneficial to Ohio. Indicating that he wants to see groups like the Ohio Chamber and the NFIB lead this endeavor, he called for businesses not to wait on the state and to start making investments now. Additionally, PUCO Chairman Todd Snitchler believes that the expansion of natural gas fleets and construction of filling stations can, and should, occur at the same time.

What lies ahead for NGVs is anyone’s guess. However, it is apparent that there is more and more interest and more conversations taking place regarding the policy and use of natural gas than ever before. In fact, it was stated at the beginning of the Summit that the real, underlying goal of yesterday was to start to gather ideas and work towards instating a state policy on use of natural gas in vehicles. 

Are natural gas vehicles in your business’ future?

Want to watch the speeches and panels at the Summit? Check out the Ohio Channel for full video coverage. 

Looking for resources on NGV?  Check out the following links:

http://www.cleanfuelsohio.org/

http://www.anga.us/oh

 
Posted by Charlotte Hickcox 


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