Gov. Mary Fallin and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper will spend Monday in Detroit meeting with Chrysler, General Motors and Ford to push for increased production and competitive pricing of compressed natural gas vehicles.
Oklahoma joined 12 other states in April in pledging to use the state's purchasing power to help drive the market for CNG vehicles and fueling stations.
“The development of CNG vehicles continues to be hampered by a ‘chicken and egg' scenario,” Fallin said in a prepared statement. “Consumers won't buy CNG vehicles while there is limited fueling infrastructure and high vehicle price points, and manufactures won't wade into the market if there is not sufficient consumer demand.”
Oklahoma hopes to tip the scale by replacing, as necessary, the more than 11,000 state cars with CNG vehicles. The other states that participated in a letter sent to manufacturers in April are: Colorado, Wyoming, Pennsylvania, Utah, Maine, New Mexico, West Virginia, Kentucky, Texas, Ohio, Mississippi and Louisiana.
The states pledged to explore “the aggregation of our annual state fleet vehicle procurements to provide an incentive to manufacture affordable, functional natural gas vehicles.”
The letter requested information — a measure below bids or official offers — to help in drafting a multistate solicitation or request for proposals from the auto manufactures for CNG vehicles.
Fallin said meeting in person with the auto executives on Monday will jump-start the process.
According to the Department of Energy, the average price for CNG in the U.S. has been roughly $2 for an amount equivalent to a gallon of gasoline. The state would expect to see a savings in fuel costs over time by switching to CNG as well as expect the price of natural gas to climb as demand rises.
Natural gas has been plentiful in Oklahoma since the advent of hydraulic fracturing to retrieve the gas from shale. However, the hefty supply has left natural gas prices lagging and has meant less revenue for the state from a gross production tax applied to the gas.
Meanwhile, Oklahoma has 88 existing or planned CNG fueling stations that are both public and private. That puts Oklahoma behind only Utah in the number per capita and behind New York and California in the overall number of fueling stations.
Inadequate infrastructure is an obstacle for those wishing to switch to CNG. Plotting out a trip across multiple states may require forethought about where CNG is available.
According to the Alternative Fuels Database operated by the U.S. Department of Energy, there are 500 public CNG stations in the U.S. and 60 in Oklahoma.