Portland, OR-based NW Natural has asked Oregon regulators for approval to provide compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling service to business customers. The cost of the service would be paid by the individual customers using it.

If approved by the Oregon Public Utility Commission, NW Natural would install, own and maintain CNG fueling equipment on business customers' property.

The natural gas utility has received a growing number of requests from businesses that are interested in switching their fleets to CNG or expanding the number of fleet vehicles fueled by natural gas, a spokesperson said.

NW Natural pointed to abundant U.S. natural gas supplies that make it half of the price of gasoline and diesel at the pump on an energy-equivalent basis in the Pacific Northwest. While a number of Oregon businesses already have natural gas-powered fleets and fueling equipment, NW Natural's Barbara Summer, who directs business development, said "more businesses want to make the transition, and we want to be able to support them."

Summers said the utility proposal supports Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber's goal to develop a "comprehensive alternative fuel program" in the state, as well as the state legislature's interest in promoting alternative fuel transportation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from traditional gasoline and diesel vehicles.

Separately, NW Natural last month said it issued an interstate gas storage credit on June utility bills to Oregon customers. Collectively the credit totals $8.5 million, or a little more than $9.00 each for the average residential customer, and $44.00 each for the average commercial customer. The credit accumulated from "efficient pipeline capacity management and effective use of the company's Mist underground natural gas storage facility" in northwest Oregon, officials said.

During the past 12 years, NW Natural said the Mist facility has provided $80.6 million in customer credits.

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