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Oregon Gives Avista Green Light on NGV Fueling

Following up on a statewide natural gas transportation initiative (see Daily GPI, Aug. 8, 2013), Oregon regulators on Wednesday gave Spokane, WA-based Avista Utilities approval to provide compressed natural gas (CNG) services in the areas in which it provides utility gas service in the state.

The state's largest gas utility, Portland-based NW Natural, last year received approval from the Oregon Public Utility Commission (PUC) to offer compressed natural gas (CNG) services for the first time. The service is restricted to business vehicle fleets (see Daily GPI, Jan.16, 2014).

Under the PUC sanctioning, Avista now can build, own and maintain CNG fueling equipment, including compressors and dispensing equipment, located at its non-residential customer locations, a state regulatory commission spokesperson said.

Although primarily for fleet customer locations, public third-party owned petroleum fueling stations that want to dispense CNG could potentially use this utility service, the spokesperson said.

"Oregon is taking another step toward diversifying its transportation fuel mix by encouraging the use of natural gas vehicles (NGV)," said PUC Chair Susan Ackerman, noting that the utility's general customer base will not pay for the cost of the new option, and should, in fact, benefit from it being offered.

Under the utility program, customers must enter into a minimum 10-year services agreement, and any compressing services contracts that Avista signs would remain effective through the life of the contract. That would be the case in the event that the PUC decides to discontinue or modify Avista's compressing services approval after a two-year review.

Avista told the PUC in its filing for the program that it has had requests from both public- and private-sector fleet operators to discuss some form of CNG service. The utility said it will design, plan, engineer, permit, construct, install, inspect, test and maintain whatever fueling facilities are eventually contracted for.

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