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Advocates pitch alternative fuels at Oklahoma City symposium

The Central Oklahoma Clean Cities coalition will hold a Ride & Drive event Thursday where attendees will be able to test drive alternative vehicles that run on electricity, natural gas and propane.
BY JAY F. MARKS Modified: May 9, 2013 at 9:20 pm •  Published: May 10, 2013

Fleet availability grows

Full electric models or hybrids are increasingly available from a number of automakers.

The city of Oklahoma City has used grant money to add a couple of all-electric Nissan Leafs to its fleet, while Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. is looking to add as many as a dozen more Chevrolet Volt hybrids.

Randy Lewis, the utility company's manager of community affairs, said the Volt is a good extended-range vehicle. Its electric charge is enough to drive up to about 45 miles, while its gasoline tank gives it a range of about 300 miles.

He said he has driven about 19,000 miles in the hybrid since OG&E bought it in late 2011. It has been fueled about evenly by electricity and gasoline, but electricity is much cheaper.

Lewis said the Volt has logged about 9,000 miles on $260 worth of electricity, while it burned almost $1,000 worth of gasoline to travel another 9,900 miles.

Chesapeake Energy Corp., the nation's second largest natural gas producer, is an active advocate for the use of compressed natural gas as a transportation fuel. It is converting its vehicle fleet to run on CNG.

Scott Minton, a natural gas vehicle market development specialist at Chesapeake, said it will remain a cheaper alternative to gasoline or diesel.

“The price of natural gas is not going to change much over the next few decades,” he said.

Minton said Chesapeake also supports other alternatives.

He noted natural gas is responsible for about half of Oklahoma's electric generation, while Chesapeake is also a large producer of propane.