The U.S. Department of Energy will spend $750,000 to boost the adoption of alternative fuel vehicles in Oklahoma and Arkansas.
The grant, to be shared in the Clean Cities programs in Tulsa, Oklahoma City and Arkansas, is part of an $11 million federal investment in support of the Obama administration's “all-of-the-above” energy strategy.
“Building a clean and secure U.S. transportation system that leverages our domestic energy sources will give American families, businesses and communities more options and reduce fueling costs,” U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said Monday in a news release. “At the same time, these projects will help lead the way to further reducing America's dependence on foreign oil and protecting our nation's air and water.”
The Oklahoma-Arkansas proposal was focused on compressed natural gas, Tulsa Clean Cities Coordinator Meredith Webber said. Each of the three chapters has its own plans for the money.
She said the Tulsa chapter intends to establish a loan program to help small businesses convert their vehicles to alternative fuels. The money they save on fuel will be used to repay the loans.
The Tulsa chapter also aims to update and standardize building codes for alternative fueling stations so designers, builders and inspectors are on the same page, Webber said.
Oklahoma City's Central Oklahoma program will stage workshops to educate people about the state's rapidly changing alternative fuel regulations. Webber said the chapter also will work with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation to put up road signs to direct motorists to alternative fuel stations.
She said the Arkansas chapter will formulate criteria for the state to license mechanics to work on CNG vehicles, while ensuring the necessary training is available.
The groups, dubbed the Interstate 40 Collaboration, had asked for more than $900,000.
Webber said the groups must figure out how to split up the Energy Department funds, but she is confident it will be money well spent.
“This will make a genuine impact on people using alternative fuels,” she said.