COLUMBUS - 

State Representative Jim Butler (R-Oakwood) has introduced comprehensive new legislation to facilitate and expedite the conversion to vehicles that run on compressed natural gas (CNG) for state and local government fleets, as well as privately owned fleets.


“This bill will help our governments spend less money on fuel and give Ohio businesses a competitive edge over businesses in other states and countries,” said Representative Butler. “Energy independence is often talked about at the national level, but as a state, Ohio has the potential to become truly energy independent by making use of its own natural resources. Our state has an abundant supply of natural gas, which will help keep costs for CNG significantly lower than costs for gasoline. Also, CNG burns many times cleaner than conventional gasoline, and that will positively impact our environment.”


Representative Butler’s legislation will solve what has been termed the “chicken-and-egg” problem with converting vehicles to run on CNG. That problem is that very few people are willing to convert their vehicle to CNG because there are not enough filling stations in our state, and very few developers want to build filling stations because there is not a large enough base of customers who require CNG for fuel. According to the Wall Street Journal, there are 992 CNG stations throughout the United States, only 12 of which are located in Ohio. This means that Ohio has only roughly 1 percent of the country’s CNG stations while being home to over 3.5 percent of the country’s population. CNG is also very expensive to transport, so it stands to reason that natural gas costs will be much lower in a state like Ohio that possesses plentiful natural gas reserves.


A few key components of the bill are as follows:


• The state will take applications from local governments and private businesses for loans to convert fleets (or portions of fleets); applicants will be eligible for loans only if they projected difference between gasoline costs and CNG costs will pay for the overall cost of conversion within a five year period.


• Using special gas debit cards, the loans will be paid back at the point of sale every time a vehicle is filled up with CNG. This will happen because the business or local government will pay the gasoline price every time the fill up with CNG until the loans is paid off; once it’s paid of, they will pay the CNG price and begin to reap significant savings.


• If a business or local government is not able to repay the loan within a ten year period, the state loan guarantee program will pay off the difference, so there is no risk for local governments and businesses to convert.


• After getting applications for conversion, the state will coordinate with filling station owners to determine the most viable locations for CNG filling stations. Having the data from applicants is important because knowing how many vehicles that run on CNG are in a given geographic location ensures that station owners can rely on those vehicles to be guaranteed customers.


This legislation will be referred to a standing committee in the Ohio House of Representatives in the near future. The co-sponsors of this legislation are: Rep. John Adams, (R – Sidney), Rep. Terry Boose (R – Norwalk), Rep. Dave Hall (R – Millersburg), Rep. Michael Henne (R – Clayton), Rep. Sean O’Brien (D – Hubbard) and Rep. Lou Terhar (R – Cincinnati).


Representatives Hall and O’Brien also have their own jointly sponsored bill dealing with the conversion to CNG, and Representative Butler is a co-sponsor of that legislation. “Even though our bills differ in several respects, Representative Hall, Representative O’Brien and I all agree that Ohio needs to be on the forefront when in comes to compressed natural gas, and now is the right time for action,” said Rep. Butler.

 
 
 
  
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