Representative Jim Butler (R-Dayton) provided testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee this week urging members to favorably consider his legislation to create the Green Fleets Loan Guarantee Program which would guarantee the repayment of loans made to governmental entities and private businesses to fund the conversion of all or a portion of their fleet vehicles to run on natural gas fuel.
The program would be administered through the Development Services Agency (DSA), and the director would be permitted, on behalf of the state, to enter into contracts to guarantee the repayment of the loans. Fleets that apply for loans would be eligible for the program only if the projected difference between their current gasoline expenditures and their projected CNG costs will pay for the overall cost of conversion within a five year period.
The bill would also subject natural gas to the motor fuel tax, measured by gallon equivalents. Included is a three-year exemption from the tax for propane and compressed natural gas (CNG), and a phase-in of the full 28 cent per gallon rate over three years.
Speaking to the merits of CNG, Butler highlighted the environmental impact of increased usage of the fuel, saying it burns much cleaner than conventional gasoline. Noting the abundant natural gas reserves in Ohio, the sponsor said the state has an advantage over other states that do not possess abundant natural gas reserves because CNG is expensive to transport. Butler testified that increased usage of CNG will make Ohio a more attractive destination for businesses to locate because fuel costs have the potential to be significantly lower than in many neighboring states.