New push for natural gas-powered vehicles

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by JIM DOUGLAS

Bio | Email | Follow: @wfaajdouglas

WFAA

Posted on March 30, 2011 at 7:08 PM

Updated Thursday, Mar 31 at 10:39 AM

FORT WORTH — You could easily run out of fuel trying to find a compressed natural gas station in Dallas-Fort Worth.

A map at cngprices.com shows only seven in operation. Of course, there aren't many private natural gas vehicles, either.

A white Honda Civic in Fort Worth is one that stands out. It's covered with company logos and a TCU Horned Frog.

"Our Frog Mobile," said Ken Morgan, who drives the CNG-powered sedan and runs TCU's Energy Institute.

We pulled Morgan out of a meeting with energy company executives to discuss the potential impact of President Obama's speech encouraging more natural gas drilling and more natural gas vehicles.

"I tell you," he said, "all the lights and bells and whistles went off today."

Morgan believes the president's leadership on expanded domestic drilling, and incentives for natural gas vehicles could put a lot more CNG cars on the road. He thinks we could start to see changes within 18 months.

"Right now it's going to start with fleets, because companies have large fleets that could save a lot of money moving to natural gas," Morgan said. "That's going to bleed into Detroit, and the public, and grass roots interest."

Morgan said that once industry is convinced of where the government is going, a lot of funds will flow into natural gas vehicles — and that should translate into more natural gas production and more CNG refueling stations.

He said the government initiative should also propel Texas to be "a lead state to make sure we're looking at our energy future with domestic alternatives."

On Thursday, the Frog Mobile and about a dozen other CNG vehicles will converge on the State Capitol in Austin. The goal is to get lawmakers on board with energy polices encouraging the use of natural gas-powered cars.

E-mail jdouglas@wfaa.com

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