Arkansas News (Arkansas) - by Rob Moritz
Gov. Mike Beebe today announced a $2.2 million rebate program designed to help public and private entities purchase or convert vehicle fleets to natural gas.
“We’re not going to replace oil and we’re not going to replace coal,” Beebe said at a Capitol news conference. “But to the extent that we can broaden our portfolio, whether it’s biomass or compressed natural gas or wind power or solar power or electric generation, all of the things we can do as a state with regard to creating less dependence on foreign energy and more reliability on our American energy sources the safer our people will be.”
Under the program, funded with federal stimulus money, recipients will be eligible for up to $25,000 per vehicle, with a limit of $440,000 per entity.
The program is schedule to last through December, or until the money runs out.
State Sen. Jason Rapert, R-Bigelow, chairman of the Fayetteville Shale Legislative Caucus, praised the program, saying the expansion of natural gas usage and availability is important for the state.
“Using Arkansas resources to power Arkansas vehicles is good for the economy and also good for the environment,” he said.
The Compressed Natural Gas Conversion Rebate Program is open to state agencies, higher education institutions, cities, counties, schools districts and private companies with at least 10 vehicles.
The Arkansas Energy Office also is making available $470,000 for the development of at least two compressed natural gas stations. About $70,000 of that money will come from the state Senate’s General Improvement Fund money. The remaining $400,000 will come from oil overcharge funds.
Walter Bryant, vice president of Centerpoint Energy, said the new programs “will allow businesses to convert their fleets to compressed natural gas in order to take advantage of lower fuel prices as compared to gasoline and diesel today.”
Chris Crain, vice president of Crain Automotive, said it costs $9,000 to $11,500 to install a compressed natural gas kit on a vehicle.