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Automakers converge in Oklahoma discussing Governors' CNG RFP

Representatives of America's automakers, including the Big Three, met yesterday with Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin and knowledgeable procurement authorities to discuss aspects of the multi-state Request for Proposal (RFP) submitted last month.
Posted: August 9, 2012 - 6:14PM
Author: Don Bain


The RFP resulted from a national, bi-partisan outreach led by Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin and Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, beseeching auto manufacturers to provide affordable, functional vehicles consuming compressed natural gas (CNG) for state automobile fleets.

The RFP was reported by Torque News last month.

As of this month, 22 states have agreed to participate in the RFP, confirming their interest in purchasing CNG vehicles for use in their states.

With an estimated 123,000 CNG vehicles on the nation’s roads and 1,000 fueling stations, the Governors are hoping this expression of interest and intent will overcome current obstacles, notably limited refueling availability and consumer demand, that is preventing automakers from producing more CNG vehicles.

"The objective behind our efforts is simple," Gov. Fallin said. "We want auto manufacturers to know states mean business and are strongly committed to the use of CNG vehicles in state fleets so more vehicles can become available to consumers."

"By incorporating more CNG vehicles into our state fleets, we can save tax dollars by reducing the amount we spend on fuel,” she continued. “We can also support the use of an abundant, American-made energy source that will help create jobs, strengthen tax revenue bases at the state level, improve the environment, and reduce our dependence on foreign oil."

The meeting was open to the public, providing an overview of the RFP and an open-forum for dealers and automakers with questions for the state representatives.

The multi-state call to action is in response to a rule under consideration by the EPA that would put CNG vehicles at a competitive disadvantage with other alternative fuels. The Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards currently under consideration heavily favor electric cars, discouraging automakers from producing CNG vehicles and making for an uneven playing field for other fuel technologies.

The overall response from participants was overwhelmingly positive, according to Aaron Cooper of Governor Fallin’s staff. Personnel from Ford, GM, Chrysler and Honda were in attendance and one was heard to refer to the event as “absolutely awesome.”

“Ford has been a leader in alternative fuel technologies for quite some time,” said Stephanie Lundberg, of Ford's government affairs office. “We hope the marketplace for CNG and other technologies continues to grow and are encouraged by the efforts of Governor Fallin, Governor Hickenlooper and their public sector partners to help make them more mainstream.”

"We're at a critical juncture right now. It's vital that the federal government remains technology-neutral and lets the market decide what alternative fuel technologies work," said Gov. Fallin. "We want the nation to realize that clean-burning natural gas is a technology that works today and offers a viable path toward achieving energy independence in the U.S."

While 14 Governors have expressed support of the initiative, a total of 22 states have shown interest in the RFP including Oklahoma, Colorado, Arkansas, Connecticut, Hawaii, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Notably natural gas is readily available in these states.

The RFP was coordinated by the National Association of State Procurement Officials, a group that enhances state purchasing power by coordinating the purchase of many commonly used products.

Click here to review a copy of the RFP.