Customers who fill up compressed natural gas vehicles at Oklahoma Natural Gas public filling stations will pay 25 cents more per gallon equivalent under a plan approved Monday by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission.
The extra money — estimated at more than $300,000 per year — will go toward rebates for consumers to buy natural-gas vehicles or home-filling stations for CNG vehicles. The plan would provide rebates of $2,500 for a dedicated CNG vehicle; $1,500 for a dual-fuel vehicle; and $2,500 toward the cost of a home-filling station for vehicles.
The rebates will be available to all Oklahomans, not just ONG customers. Rebates will be in addition to several existing state tax credits for CNG vehicles.
“This will go right back into the pockets of Oklahomans,” said Cherokee Ballard, spokeswoman for ONG. “It will allow people interested in CNG vehicles to help pay for the cost of conversion or a natural-gas vehicle.”
ONG's 25 public natural gas fueling stations have lower prices than commercial CNG stations. That's because the utility originally operated the stations for its fleet vehicles and later opened them to the public. The infrastructure cost of the ONG stations was already covered by its customer rates, so ONG can offer CNG for about $1.10 per gallon equivalent. That compares to a statewide average of $1.59 per gallon equivalent at commercial CNG stations.
Commissioners said the new rebate program will help to grow the state's CNG vehicle market and infrastructure.
“While CNG is a great buy at the pump at less than half the price of gasoline, the higher initial price of buying a CNG vehicle or converting an existing vehicle can be an issue,” said Commissioner Patrice Douglas. “This program will allow many more Oklahomans to consider a CNG vehicle, giving consumers more options at the pump.”
Commissioner Bob Anthony, who drives a CNG vehicle, said the rebates also will help reduce the country's dependence on foreign oil.
The rebates will be open to consumers, businesses and governmental units, although there is a limit of three per customer each calendar year. The rebates are on a first-come, first-served basis.