MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

August 18, 2011

CNG station open in Tahlequah

TAHLEQUAH — Congressman John Sullivan filled a tank with 14 gallons of gas for only $15.65 Thursday.

Sullivan, R-Oklahoma, got the gas from a compressed natural gas station that opened by the west Oklahoma 51 loop near West Choctaw Street. The station will be open 24-hours a day with credit card access for public use and fleet operation. The gas sells for $1.08 a gallon. The station, built by Tulsa Gas Technologies, was funded by $1.65 million in federal stimulus funds and a $210,000 match from the Northeast Oklahoma Public Facilities Authority, based in Tahlequah.

People who fill their vehicle at this CNG station will help wean the United States from dependency on foreign petroleum, said Sullivan, who helped secure funding for the project. Sullivan spoke Thursday at a ribbon cutting for the station.

“We spend over a billion dollars a day buying foreign oil from OPEC,” Sullivan said, calling the CNG station a “perfect scenario” because it uses natural gas from Oklahoma and helps bring energy-related jobs to the state.

Acting Northeastern State University President Martin Tadlock is chairman of the Northeast Oklahoma Public Facilities Authority Board. He said officials with NOPFA and NSU worked “seamlessly with several other staff members, and state and federal agencies to make this fill station a reality.”

Sullivan said he is sponsoring congressional legislation seeking tax credits to build more CNG stations and manufacture CNG vehicles.

“The tax credits could help more businesses get tax credits to get more CNG vehicles,” Sullivan said.

State Rep. Mike Brown, D-Tahlequah, said he would like to see tax credits help citizens get CNG vehicles.

“We’re giving tax credits to big business,” Brown said, adding that he had proposed legislation in the past to give CNG tax credits for residents.

Sullivan said there is not enough infrastructure to make it practical for private individuals to have CNG cars. He said more stations are needed.

“Only Honda and Ford make dedicated CNG cars, and those are only for Europe or Asia,” Sullivan said.

The website www.oklacleancities.org lists 42 CNG stations open to the public. The list includes a public station at the Oklahoma Natural Gas Muskogee office, 2616 W. Border Ave. Other northeast Oklahoma CNG stations are in Tulsa, Broken Arrow, Claremore and Miami.

The vehicle Sullivan filled at Thursday’s opening was the city of Tahlequah’s new garbage truck.

Tahlequah Mayor Jason Nichols said the truck is the only CNG vehicle the city has, but said the city hopes to add more. He said he would like to convert the remaining five garbage trucks to CNG.

“We’d like to have a pilot program for CNG for police cars,” Nichols said.

He said he also would like administrative vehicles to run on CNG.

Yvonne Anderson, Central Oklahoma Clean Cities program manager, said more businesses across Oklahoma are using CNG vehicles. They include UPS, ONG and AT&T. She said as more and more fleets convert to CNG, the demand for more CNG stations will increase.

“However, not all vehicles can be retrofitted or equipped for CNG,” she said, explaining that CNG is practical for larger vehicles.

Although considered cleaner and cheaper than gasoline, a CNG vehicle gets the same gas mileage as a regular vehicle, said Charlie Sewell, vice president of Tulsa Gas Technologies.

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or cspaulding@muskogeephoenix.com.

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