OKLAHOMA CITY --- An Oklahoma House committee last week approved a set of bills aimed at securing a role for Oklahoma in the alternative energy market. The legislation includes provisions that would authorize the Department of Central Services to build compressed natural gas fueling stations for state agencies, cities and counties.

One bill, part of House Speaker Chris Benge's alternative energy initiative, would expand the number of vehicles that operate on alternative fuels such as CNG and increase the number of publicly available fueling stations across Oklahoma, AP reported. This legislation would permit DCS to provide fleet services to schools as well as to county and municipal governments. The department would also provide public access to alt-fueling infrastructure in underserved regions unless a private provider is located within five miles.

Benge said the proposed state-financed program would help promote the use of CNG vehicles in Oklahoma and across the U.S. There are now 28 CNG stations in Oklahoma that are accessible to the public.

Benge added that a measure approved Monday, Feb. 23, by the House Appropriations and Budget Committee would give tax credits to businesses that establish alternative fueling stations.

If approved, the legislation would change the state Fleet Management Fund so that money could be used to build alternative fueling stations or to acquire alternative fuel vehicles for state agencies or to lease to cities and counties. Money from lease payments would go into the fund, AP reported.