CNG Developer: Incentives? We Don't Need No Stinking Incentives
“We do not need incentives for natural gas technology to drive adoption,” Bill Larkin, CFO of Westport Innovations, a Vancouver-based developer of technology that allows truck and bus engines to run on natural gas, told Reuters in an interview:
“It actually hurts the investment in this technology because the U.S. government has been dangling this carrot … and so investments are delayed.”
While billions of tax payer money are spent on electrification programs with dubious prospects ( and a few certain duds,) the U.S. sits on a mountain of natural gas. Prices of natural gas are coming off decade lows as production soars from U.S. shale fields.
Larkin is glad that the U.S. Senate’s rejected proposed tax incentives for long-haul trucks and commercial vehicles to switch to CNG. At about $1.33 per gallon, the cost of CNG is around half of gasoline, more than enough of an incentive to make the relatively low-tech switch. Natural gas produces lower emissions of nitrogen oxides, particulate matter and greenhouse gases than gasoline or diesel.
I think the problem is the Govt's maybe/maybe not approach to incentives. There are many willing to invest in expanding this technology, but don't want to use their own money if the government is going to throw money at them or their competitors. So everyone sits and waits.
I'm against government subsidies and corporate welfare, even if it's something I believe in. but I do think there are "pro-market" policies that can encourage CNG development without having taxpayer subsidies. An example: How about giving generous CAFE credits to auto manufacturers that produce CNG vehicles from the factory to get the ball rolling? Also, I do see energy independence as a national security issue. CNG is the closest thing to a stop gap solution I've seen. It's also MUCH cleaner and would be a boon to America's economy.
I believe CNG tanks have to be replaced every ten years, for safety reasons.
If you want to muck anything up, let the government tax it, regulate it, or subsidize it. Getting the government completely out of the energy sector would be the best way to eliminate shortages, and assure that the smartest and most efficient technologies come to the fore, at the lowest cost. Ending the gulf drilling ban is Job One The Keystone Pipeline is next Eliminating ethanol mandates, eliminating solar and wind subsidies, opening up ANWAR, and then an emergency urgent leasing program on federal and offshore areas should be next. Continuing to import oil from countries that have led us to horrible wars, that have added trillions to the national debt, killed and maimed thousands of Americans and unknown numbers of innocent foreigners, as well as provoked numerous attacks including 9/11, and created immeasurable hatred of the USA, is just plain crazy. It doesn't have to be this way.