With strong state legislative support, the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) on Tuesday approved new commercial natural gas vehicle (NGV) programs for three Chesapeake Utilities Corp. companies operating in the state.

The PSC action authorizing programs for Florida Public Utilities Co., Florida Public Utilities-Indiantown Division, and the Florida Division of Chesapeake Utilities Corp. comes following Gov. Rick Scott’s signing of three new laws boosting the use of NGVs in the state.

Under the approved utility programs, commercial customers of the three utilities are incentivized to switch to NGVs. Separately, the PSC also approved a revised NGV service tariff for Florida City Gas that now includes options for compressed natural gas (CNG) and fueling stations to increase customer choices and use of natural gas in transportation.

“Along with electric vehicles, NGVs are excellent transportation alternatives,” said PSC Chairman Ronald Brise, who lauded the state legislature for earlier this year passing bills to reduce the cost and increase the use of NGVs. Brise said the latest PSC action will help it reach the goal of increased NGV use “by making the companies’ natural gas pricing more competitive with conventional motor fuels.”

In May, state lawmakers passed bills providing a five-year incentive to encourage commercial fleet operators to invest in NGVs through grants administered by the Florida Office of Energy at the state’s Department of Agriculture (see Daily GPI, May 7).

HB 579 was designed by state legislators to move Florida to the forefront of states now pushing alternative vehicles, particularly fleets’ use of NGVs, including a five-year moratorium on taxation of CNG. The measure passed the Senate unanimously (39-0).

In recent years, Florida has joined other states in embracing more CNG-fueled vehicles and the fueling infrastructure to support them (see Daily GPI, Oct. 1, 2012). State lawmakers said NGVs are “immensely popular” with their constituents.

The PSC is particularly supportive of the commercial use of NGVs among fleets, including transit buses, refuse haulers and delivery trucks. “In Florida, additional fueling stations, which need special dispensers, compressors and storage, would help drive demand,” said a PSC spokesperson.