Higher Gas Prices Have Some Converting To CNG

Tuesday, May 27th 2008, 6:01 pm
By: News On 6

Some drivers are only paying 90 cents a gallon to fill up.  That means demand for compressed natural gas is rising as fast as the price at the pump.   News On 6 anchor Craig Day reports more people are looking into vehicles that run on CNG.

Ever since gas and diesel prices have gone through the roof, setting record high after record high, the phone at Tulsa Gas Technologies has been ringing off the hook.

"We've had such an unbelievable response.  We're getting 60 phone calls a day.  To the point where I'm going to have to hire a person just to answer the phone," said Tom Sewell with Tulsa Gas Technologies.

Tom Sewell says callers are asking about converting their cars to compressed natural gas.  CNG is running at about 90 cents a gallon, with the same fuel efficiency as gas.

"Most of the people are really concerned that they aren't going to be able to survive with the fuel prices.  You got somebody driving to work 10 or 15 miles a day, it's costing them 15 bucks a day on fuel.  They're really panicking right now," said Tom Sewell with Tulsa Gas Technologies.

The range on a CNG car is limited to about 150 miles per tank.  For people concerned about limited places to fill up, CNG units can be installed in your garage at home that will tie-in to your home's natural gas.

Converting a car to compressed natural gas is expensive, about $12,000.  But, the State of Oklahoma offers tax credits which cover about half the cost.  There are also federal tax credits for some vehicles that run exclusively on CNG.  Federal regulations limit conversions to approved models that have passed a certification process.

Sewell says if the regulations are eased up, CNG could go from mostly a fleet fuel, to one used by many drivers who want to save money.

"Natural gas is cleaner than gasoline, it is safer than gasoline, it's cheaper than gasoline, and it's from the United States," said Tom Sewell with Tulsa Gas Technologies.

Some wonder if the expense of converting to CNG is worth it.  It really depends on how much you drive.

But, because demand is so high right now, it's also more difficult to find used cars and trucks that run on CNG at local car lots.