Oklahoma's energy plan could tip auto scales in favor of natural gas
Oklahoma, along with Colorado, has launched an initiative to increase the use of natural gas-fueled vehicles in their state automobile fleets, which officials hope will make the vehicles more affordable for individuals.
Successful implementation of a key component of Oklahoma's energy plan may produce more affordable natural gas vehicles for the average car buyer, the state's energy secretary told a House committee Tuesday.
Part of the plan is asking other states to join in committing to buy natural gas vehicles for their fleets and seeing whether automakers would manufacture a car for them that
Energy Secretary Mike Ming, who led development of the plan, told members of the House of Representatives Energy and Utility Regulation Committee that Oklahoma and Colorado are spearheading the effort. Other states joining the effort to get more natural gas-powered vehicles on the road include Kentucky, Maine, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Utah, West Virginia, Wyoming and Texas.
The biggest market for natural gas vehicles is light-duty utility and delivery trucks, he said.
“The passenger vehicle is by far the biggest market, but penetrating that market upscale is certainly a challenge,” he said. “The reason we picked that segment is that's where the state can move the needle. ... If we can get those cars onto the road and make them affordable, then people will buy them.”
Supply and demand
A “tsunami of supply” of natural gas has caused prices, as high as $15 per thousand cubic feet in January 2006, to drop to $2.50 per thousand cubic feet, he said. Natural gas producers pay a state tax on their production so new markets will help the state's coffers and make it a reliable revenue stream.