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Group, bill promote natural gas fueling stations

April 9, 2013

Natural gas advocates want to create incentives for building fueling stations across the state in hopes that more people will operate vehicles using alternative fuels.

A bill approved by the Indiana House of Representatives and pending in the state Senate would give tax breaks to companies that use natural gas to power large trucks. The state income tax credit would amount to $18,000 per vehicle, with a maximum of $180,000 per corporation per year.

Currently, fuel tanks and motors for trucks that run on alternative fuels are more expensive.

"We're trying to get people to build fuel stations," said Rep. Randy Frye, R-Greensburg, who sponsored the bill in the House. "The best way to get these natural gas fuel stations installed in Indiana is by supply and demand, and trucks use the most fuel."

Frye believes that more people would buy cars that run on alternative fuels if such fuels were more readily available statewide. He said the fueling stations would be open to cars and other small vehicles as well as semi-trucks and larger vehicles running on natural gas.

A group called Greater Indiana Clean Cities displayed cars, trucks and buses that run on alternative fuels outside the Statehouse on Monday.

"The main goal is to reduce our dependence on foreign oil," said Kellie Walsh, executive director of the group.

She added that with natural gas costing the equivalent of $2.10 per gallon of gasoline, "it's making sense for a lot of fleets" to explore alternative fuel options.

A vote on the bill is expected in the Senate this week. After that, the bill would go to a conference committee to create a compromise between the House and Senate versions, Frye said. The bill also imposes a motor carrier fuel tax on natural gas that is equal to the existing tax on gasoline.

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