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Guest post: Oklahoma turnpikes need CNG

by Jay F. Marks Modified: June 21, 2013 at 1:10 pm •  Published: June 21, 2013

This is a guest post from Tulsa resident Craig Dickson, a compressed natural gas advocate who has operated the Burn U.S. Gas blog since 2009. He also is active on Twitter, @burnusgas.

Earlier this week, I noticed Craig, via Twitter, was urging the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority to make CNG part of its ongoing remodeling efforts at travel plazas around the state, so I asked him where he thinks fueling options should go. Here is his response.

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In 2010, the Oklahoma legislature passed Resolution 74-78f to encourage development of CNG refueling stations:

“It shall be the goal to have at least one public CNG fueling station located approximately every one hundred (100) miles along the entire interstate highway system in the state by the year 2015.  The goal shall increase to at least one public CNG fueling station approximately every fifty (50) miles by the year 2025.”

Now, a path to meeting that goal seems to be shaping up leveraging Oklahoma’s entrepreneurs and the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority (OTA).

OTA’s 5-year capital plan includes:

  1. Purchase of 35 CNG powered vehicles per year starting in 2013

  2. Toll Plaza remodels at Vinita on Will Rogers (2013), Walters on H.E Bailey (2014), Eufaula and Antlers on Indian Nation (2015), SH 99 on Cimarron (2016), and Stroud on Turner (2017)

The sole turnpike plaza that currently offers CNG refueling is the Stroud plaza on the Turner Turnpike and while that little ol’ Oklahoma Natural Gas station is useful when low on fuel, it is very tired and inadequate.

Love’s and OnCue have led the way in integrating CNG refueling into the convenience store.  Now OTA has a great opportunity to serve its refueling needs as well as its paying customers by integrating CNG refueling into plaza remodels.

Benefits:

  1. Showcase the economics and feasibility of using Oklahoma’s natural gas for transportation to turnpike travelers.

  2. Increase revenue for OTA through greater use of turnpikes. (Who minds paying tolls when you saving so much on fuel?)

  3. Increase high profit margin concessions for plaza concession operators.  Travelers in CNG vehicles will certainly refuel prior to exiting Oklahoma to the northeast (Vinita), south (Antlers) and southwest (Walters).  Coincidentally, those are next three toll plazas slated for remodeling.

CNG is often called “green times 2”, or #greenX2 in Twitter-speak, due to its cheapness and its environment-saving credentials.  Now the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority has the ability to increase its revenue and reduce expenses by integrating CNG refueling into its planned toll plaza remodels.

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Craig ended his piece with a map showing his proposed new fueling locations. I couldn’t reproduce it here, so you can see it on his blog.


by Jay F. Marks
Energy Reporter
Jay F. Marks has been covering Oklahoma news since graduating from Oklahoma State University in 1996. He worked in Sulphur and Enid before joining The Oklahoman in 2005. Marks has been covering the energy industry since 2009.
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