As states proceed with a collective effort to buy natural gas vehicles (NGV) for government fleets, Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead on Tuesday warned that state efforts to stimulate the spread of alternative fuel vehicles should not get “ahead of the private sector.”
Mead made the comments in responding to questions at a press conference regarding his report that the multi-state request for proposals (RFP) of which Wyoming is apart (see Daily GPI, Aug. 10) will assess its responses from automakers starting this Friday (Oct. 5). He said Wyoming hopes to get up to 283 natural gas-powered vehicles through the RFP and eventually replace more than 1,000 of its vehicles with NGVs.
“[This Friday] we’ll know who are the successful bidders in providing the vehicles across the various  states, and we’re hopeful that comes about in Wyoming so we will be able to buy [our] vehicles from Wyoming auto dealers.”
Mead said Wyoming joined with the other states in this venture because of the “chicken-egg” conundrum concerning fueling infrastructure and vehicles. “No one wants to build the infrastructure until you have the vehicles, and we have this abundance of this great fuel source [natural gas] so we went to Detroit to see if we could get this thing off the dime.
“The hope is that not only will it save us money, but it will provide a clean fuel source. We’ve seen different towns and counties in Wyoming express an interest, too.”
Mead cautioned that the public sector push should not get ahead of market responses, however. As an example, he said the Wyoming legislature passed a law to allow for an NGV fueling station on the University of Wyoming campus, but the law specified that the university do it through a public-private partnership.
“I’m interested in the concept of NGVs, but I think we have to be very careful about getting ahead of the private sector on this. This effort should always continue to be a market-based solution or not. You cannot subsidize your way to results on this.
“We want to stimulate it by what we [the combined states] are doing with this coalition, but either it is going to work with the market approach or it won’t. I believe it will, and by [Wyoming] expressing our interest, the private sector will decide maybe there is an opportunity here. I don’t think a state can do much more than that.”
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