Georgia utility regulators approved a plan developed by Atlanta Gas Light that incents the private sector to invest in Compressed Natural Gas vehicle fueling stations.

The Georgia Public Service Commission approved investments of $11.57 million in CNG fueling infrastructure for up to 10 stations that could be constructed over the next five years, based on the size of each station. The new CNG stations may be located throughout metro Atlanta and along major transportation corridors in the state depending on demand. AGL will provide a new CNG service under a commission-approved rate to retail station owners.

"Georgia is positioned geographically to be the hub for CNG fueling station expansion in the Southeast, and this new program will enable AGL to partner with private CNG investors to meet the region's growing demand for CNG," said Ian Skelton, Director of Atlanta Gas Light's natural gas vehicle program. "Fleet owners and vehicle manufacturers recognize the significant price advantage CNG holds over petroleum and now AGL will be ready to serve the market as these Georgia-based commercial and municipal fleets switch to CNG."

The AGL program is designed to stimulate private investment in fleet vehicles and CNG stations by allowing AGL to invest in CNG equipment at each new station using proceeds from the Universal Service Fund. Station costs can range from $600,000 to approximately $1.5 million to build.

In order to qualify for funding, applicants must demonstrate they can secure the real estate for the station, develop the site consistent with local zoning, fund 100 percent of the CNG station costs, and hold contracts with fleet customers to utilize what amounts to approximately 30 percent of a proposed station's capacity.

Retailers would purchase natural gas from certificated marketers and resell it as CNG to the public. The initial station locations will be largely determined based on proximity to commercial fleet customers who would use the stations.

Construction and maintenance of CNG facilities is not new to Atlanta Gas Light. The company installed its first CNG equipment at a public station in downtown Atlanta in the early 1990s. In 1996, AGL began providing CNG service to MARTA (Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority) when the transportation agency converted its bus fleet to CNG in advance of Atlanta hosting the Summer Olympics. Currently, the company owns equipment at 10 private access CNG stations located on customer-owned premises and has installed numerous others. The company also provides maintenance services to about 30 additional fleet customers who own their own CNG stations.