Drivers who want a compressed-natural gas vehicle will have additional incentives under a plan approved Monday by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission.
The regulatory panel approved three new rebates to spur the use of CNG vehicles in a plan worked out with Oklahoma Natural Gas, commission staff and the attorney general's office. The rebates come on top of existing state tax credits for CNG vehicles.
ONG will begin charging an extra 25 cents per gasoline gallon equivalent at its 25 public CNG stations across the state. It will use that money, estimated at up to $300,000 per year, to provide rebates for CNG vehicles and home-fueling stations.
The plan will provide rebates of $2,500 for a dedicated CNG vehicle; $1,500 for a dual-fuel vehicle conversion; and $2,500 toward the cost of a CNG home-filling station.
“This will go right back into the pockets of Oklahomans,” said Cherokee Ballard, ONG spokeswoman. “It will allow people interested in CNG vehicles to help pay for the cost of conversion or a natural-gas vehicle.”
The rebates will be available on a first-come, first-served basis to all Oklahomans, not just ONG customers. The rebates are limited to three per customer each calendar year.
“This is another tool in the toolbox to help Oklahomans across the state,” said Dana Murphy, commission chairwoman.
The plan will narrow a pricing disparity between ONG's public stations and commercial CNG stations. ONG built its CNG stations for its 585 fleet vehicles and paid for them under existing customer rates. The utility later opened its stations to the public but charges only for the cost of the fuel. ONG can offer CNG at $1.10 per gallon equivalent, compared to an Oklahoma City area average of $1.59 at commercial CNG stations.
Even with the new surcharge, CNG bought at ONG's public stations will cost less than at commercial stations. ONG is upgrading its public stations to new, higher-pressure pumps on par with those at commercial stations. The utility has converted seven stations and plans to complete the rest by 2014, Ballard said.
Commissioners, who voted 3-0 for the plan, said the ONG rebates will help 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,” Commissioner Patrice Douglas said. “This program will allow many more Oklahomans to consider a CNG vehicle, giving consumers more options at the pump.”