OCC approves new incentive for CNG conversion customers

TULSA, Okla.-- The Oklahoma Corporation Commission approved a new rebate program Monday aimed at helping to boost the state economy while also promoting energy independence.

Starting this week, customers can receive a rebate when they convert their vehicles in to a Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) vehicle, buy a CNG vehicle or add a CNG home fueling station.

Tony Griffith, with CNG Auto Repair & Conversion in midtown Tulsa, converts an average of two CNG vehicles per week. That's a big jump from about two vehicles a month, when he first started his business more than three years ago.

"The amount of wear that CNG causes to an engine is almost zero compared to what gasoline does to the engine," he said.

Griffith says there are a lot of benefits to customers on top of the additional money they'll save on gas, but admits the initial conversion cost can be pricy -- up to $13,000. 

But tax incentives are available to help ease that cost. "The state offers 50 percent off the conversion," Griffith said. 

"It's a state income tax credit, its not a rebate," he said. "It's a credit that goes against your state income tax liability."

OCC Vice Chair Bob Anthony hopes the program will grow CNG use and infrastructure. "Promoting natural gas usage in vehicles helps America reduce its dependence on foreign oil and helps our nation's balance of payments," he said in a statement. "Natural gas is a clean, abundant and economical transportation fuel and its expanded use can provide jobs to millions of Americans. My personal vehicle is CNG, and it's safe and reliable."

Recent CNG convert Steve Bernhardt said he has already seen the savings in fuel. "The tax breaks helps, it take some of that pain away," he said. "And of course you're paying cheaper at the pumps so, I've been pretty happy with it."

The program offers rebates of $2,500 for the purchase on a CNG vehicle or conversion, $1,500 for a bi-fuel vehicle and $1,500 for the purchase of a CNG home fueling system.

The rebates are available through Oklahoma Natural Gas, starting this week.

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