Legislator proposes incentives for CNG powered vehicles

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MCDONALD, Ohio (WKBN) — George Wrataric has a vision that as production in the Utica and Marcellus shale plays grow in Ohio, so will the demand for cars and trucks that can operate on natural gas.

“The infrastructure’s coming to this area. Pennsylvania’s ahead of us, but that’s where a lot of your drilling and the components were put together earlier,” Wrataric said.

Wrataric is the local manager with CNG Solutions, a Utah-based company specializing in equipment that converts gas and diesel engines to compressed natural gas. He has an office behind Wolford’s Rolloffs in McDonald, which he said already has started converting its fleet of trucks.

“With the numbers that we projected on just his vehicles, to his bottom line, he’ll save about $130,000 to $150,000 a year just on fuel,” Wrataric said of Wolford’s.

That’s because the gallon-equivalent price of natural gas is roughly half the current cost of diesel. The problem is availability, although a new CNG station is planned near Interstate 80 in Weathersfield. The closest that is open now is in Canton.

“A lot of it comes down to the infrastructure, sites, convenience to fill, public fueling stations,” Wrataric said.

State Rep. Sean O’Brien, D-Hubbard, is working on legislation to provide tax breaks and other incentives for individuals and companies that either switch to CNG or develop natural gas fueling stations. He plans to introduce it next month.

“We want to kick start this type of industry. We want to get it going,” O’Brien said.

“When you stop and think that Ohio’s sitting on the Utica shale, one of the biggest shale plays in North America, and the amount of gas that we can have, it just makes perfectly great sense,” O’Brien said.

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