The Senate Energy, Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee has approved the Tennessee Energy Independence Act which is an attempt to promote the utilization of an abundant resource of natural gas produced in the United States. Senate Bill 852, sponsored by Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro), establishes a rebate program modeled after one in Pennsylvania that would pay up to 50% of the incremental costs, which is the difference between a petroleum vehicle and a natural gas vehicle.
“Natural Gas is an American-grown solution that will allow the US to achieve Energy Independence and can reduce or eliminate our dependence on foreign oil,” said Senator Ketron. “Fleets across the country are looking to convert to Natural Gas due to its low cost (half the price of gasoline or diesel) and its low carbon footprint. In order for Tennessee to attract the investment, we need to make our business environment more competitive.”
The rebate program is a small portion of the overall vehicle cost, but will make the investment in Tennessee much more attractive. In order to qualify, a business must pay the full base cost of the vehicle as well as half the incremental costs. For example, if a diesel trash truck costs $250,000 and a natural gas trash truck costs $300,000, the incremental cost is $50,000. Under the bill, the business would be eligible for a $25,000 rebate or half of the incremental cost.
In addition, the bill allows the Department of General Services to add natural gas vehicles to its mix of energy efficient vehicles and sets goals for up to 25% of future fleets subject to vehicle and fueling availability. It also authorizes the Commissioner to engage in pilot projects regarding natural gas vehicles.