City of Tulsa looks into alternative car fuels

TULSA - High gas prices are hitting city budgets hard. So the city of Tulsa is looking at an alternative fuel.

The city hopes to expand its fleet of compressed natural gas vehicles.

The city just opened a new CNG fueling station in west Tulsa. Officials say the money they spend on new vehicles could go right back into Tulsa's economy.

You may think of hybrid cars or ethanol when it comes to alternatives to gasoline. But more cities and drivers are choosing to run on compressed natural gas.

Tulsa Gas Technologies manufactures CNG dispensers here in Green Country.

"One of the big things about the money, is the wells are in Oklahoma. So all of the production, everything stays in Oklahoma. It's not going overseas," said Tom Sewell, president of Tulsa Gas Technologies, Inc.

Sewell says more of their products are staying in state as city governments switch over to CNG vehicles.

"A city is a perfect world, because the vehicles go out, they do their work, and they come back to a central location to fuel," Sewell said.

As gas prices climb, the city of Tulsa estimates it will spend at least one million dollars more on gas for the next fiscal year. The city has 18 CNG vehicles right now, fueling up for about 40 cents a gallon.

The mayor hopes the city's savings with compressed natural gas will flow back to Tulsa's economy.

"I think it would be very important for us to eventually convert our entire fleet of large vehicles to compressed natural gas from diesel fuel," said Mayor Dewey Bartlett.

CNG vehicles typically get about the same mileage as regular cars, but one of the drawbacks can be finding a station to fuel up. The city plans to add a public station at the west yard by the end of the year.

Tulsa will use grants from the Department of Energy and INCOG to help cover the costs of new CNG vehicles and fueling stations.

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