Utah lawmakers are moving closer to passing a law to promote conversions to alternative fueled vehicles, particularly compressed natural gas (CNG), as the state’s leading natural gas company, Questar Corp., expands the development of its CNG fueling business and the rest of the natural gas vehicle (NGV) sector continues to spread its wings.

The Utah House passed an alternative fuels bill (SB 275) last Wednesday by a lopsided (58-14) vote. Having already passed in the state Senate, the legislation returns there for final approval of the House-added amendments.

In pushing an “all-of-the-above” type energy strategy in the state, Gov. Gary Herbert has said, “In the world of energy, we must face new realities, we must confront new challenges, and we must envision and act upon new opportunities.”

State Rep. Jack Draxler (R-North Logan) told local news media that SB 275 provides “the opportunity to make a quantum leap” to help our air quality.

At the Work Truck Show in Indianapolis, IN, the state of Oklahoma announced it has purchased 242 Chrysler CNG Ram bi-fuel pickup trucks for its state fleet.

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, who is leading a national effort among states to push vehicle manufacturers for more alternative fuel vehicles, said converting her state’s fleet to CNG “will save taxpayers millions of dollars in fuel costs.

“The use of cleaner-burning CNG fuel is good for the environment and promotes Oklahoma-made natural gas, which in turn supports the creation of more Oklahoma jobs,” Fallin said. “Our multi-state bidding process was aimed at encouraging automakers to provide states with more affordable and more functional CNG vehicles.”

Elsewhere, Ryder Systems put the first of 23 rental CNG Freightliner M2 vehicles into play with Eagle Distributing’s beer distributor fleet in Louisiana. And Clean Energy Fuels Corp.’s BAF Technologies unit and Indiana-based Utilimaster recently signed a preferred installer agreement in which Utilimaster and BAF will market a converted vehicle in the Ford F-59 CNG van.

Meanwhile, Utah is now about to put into law a way for the Questar gas utility to gain some ratepayer support for its build out of natural gas fueling stations and facilities, although these provisions are encountering some push back from utility consumer groups.

Draxler does not duck the issue, arguing that “cleaner air is not free.” Any gas utility rate hike tied to the alternative vehicle law would amount to no more than pennies/month in added utility charges, he said.

A leader in the Utah House and head of the Utah Transit Authority, Rep. Gregory Hughes (R-Draper), supports the bill and has tried unsuccessfully to have a $5 million annual spending cap removed from the legislation.

Hughes told local news media that 60% of the state’s air pollution was tied to tailpipe emissions, so switching thousands of state vehicles to run on CNG would help improve air quality.

©Copyright 2013Intelligence Press Inc. All rights reserved. The preceding news reportmay not be republished or redistributed, in whole or in part, in anyform, without prior written consent of Intelligence Press, Inc.