(Columbus)—The Ohio State Legislature passed legislation on Wednesday night that allocates $5 million in grants for Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) and propane conversions in vehicles.
The changes to a municipal utility tax exemption measure (HB 390) included an amendment making the allocation to The Alternative Fuel Vehicle Conversion Program. The Ohio Senate passed HB 390 by a vote of 33-0 and the House concurred with the amendments by a vote of 69-26. The more controversial aspects of the bill were not related to alternative fuels.
“After spending over 3 years working on this legislation, I’m happy to see the legislature and the Kasich administration recognize the importance of alternative fuels for Ohio’s future,” said State Rep. Sean O’Brien (D-Bazetta). “By making it easier for Ohioans to convert their vehicles to CNG or propane, we will see a reduction in emissions, businesses will save on fuel costs, jobs will be created here in Ohio, and we can become more energy independent.”
The industry needs financial incentives to offset the up-front costs of these vehicles. Because CNG and propane are cheaper in the long run and fleets will realize savings, there is a good business case for alternative fuels. The problem is, because CNG and propane systems are expensive to purchase, many fleets simply do not have the capital on hand to invest.
The grants included will be available to both public and private fleets and will encourage more investment in Ohio. Two Central Ohio fleet managers support that idea.
“The City of Columbus is excited to see the state take action to make Ohio more competitive,” said Kelly Reagan, fleet administrator for the City of Columbus. “As we are seeing in other states, incentivizing fleets to make this transition to natural gas and propane helps to spur adoption and to keep this industry on a steady pace as we continue to drive forward.”
“The City of Dublin is interested in investing more in deploying a cleaner, less expensive, domestic fuel source,” said Darryl Syler, fleet manager at City of Dublin Fleet Management. Even though most of the natural gas and propane is coming out of the ground in eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania, Ohio is the only one of our surrounding states that does not currently have some form of financial incentive. As a result, areas that offer these are drawing the biggest investments.”
According to Clean Fuels Ohio, U.S. natural gas resources are the largest in the world as new technologies help unlock new pools of natural gas. This production is dramatically reducing dependence on foreign oil and improving our energy security. As global supplies become more expensive and prone to supply disruptions, we are in a strategic position to take advantage of our domestic supply of CNG to power vehicles and our economy in the 21st century.
“Investment in the natural gas vehicle marketplace is continuing across the country due to the strong environmental and economic benefits of using natural gas as a transportation fuel,” said NGVAmerica President Matthew Godlewski. “States are encouraging energy diversity by implementing tax credits and grants to put more natural gas vehicles on the road. NGVAmerica applauds this legislation as a strong step in the right direction.”
The bill will now go to the Governor’s desk for his signature in the next couple of weeks.