Speaker Benge praises Tulsa School conversion to CNG

CapitolBeatOK Staff Report


House Speaker Chris Benge today praised Tulsa Public Schools for converting their entire bus fleet to compressed natural gas (CNG).

“This is just one more sign that Oklahoma is becoming a national leader in alternative energy,” said Benge, a Tulsa Republican. “In recent years we have placed much focus on making the transition to lower-cost, locally produced alternative fuels feasible for both citizens and businesses, and I am pleased that our local schools will realize savings as result of those efforts.”

The Journal Record, a business newspaper in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, reported that Tulsa Public Schools is converting its fleet of 177 diesel-powered buses to compressed natural gas. The change is expected to save the district up to $1 million a year.

In 2009, Benge was author of an extension and expansion of a tax credit toward the purchase or conversion of a CNG vehicle. The law provides for a 50 percent tax credit for originally-equipped and converted qualified clean-burning motor vehicles.

In addition, Oklahoma provides a 75 percent tax credit for the costs that are associated with entities investing in qualified clean-burning motor vehicle fueling stations. The law also provides a tax credit of up to $2,500 for individuals and entities investing in CNG equipment that allows an individual to fuel their vehicle at home.

Benge also wrote the Oklahoma Energy Security Act this year, which set an alternative energy goal for the state and also set a goal of having one public CNG station located every 100 miles along the state’s interstate system by the year 2015 and every 50 miles by 2025.

“Energy security is one of the most important issues facing our nation right now,” Benge said. “In Oklahoma, we made great progress by pushing a locally-available, plentiful and cheaper option in natural gas, which not only helps reduce our country’s dependence on foreign oil, but creates jobs and wealth right here in America instead of shipping our money overseas. My hope is that other states will see what we have done in Oklahoma and the success we have had in expanding natural gas usage for transportation and will mimic legislation in their own states.”

Oklahoma’s CNG incentives are one reason American Honda Motor Co., Inc. decided that dealers in Oklahoma will have the option of selling the compressed natural gas (CNG) powered Honda Civic GX to customers on a retail basis. Oklahoma is one of only four states – the other three being New York, California and Utah— that have dealers selling the Honda CNG GX to retail customers.

Oklahoma’s CNG laws have also attracted national attention. Benge was asked to testify about Oklahoma’s alternative energy credits before the Congressional Natural Gas Caucus in Washington D.C. last year, and he was recently honored by NGV America and the Clean Vehicle Education Foundation for his efforts to advance the development of natural gas vehicles and stations in Oklahoma and beyond.

“This is a national and economic security issue that our country must work to solve now, and I am proud that Oklahoma continues to be a leader in this arena,” Benge said. “Providing for energy security is good for our nation, and good for Oklahoma.”