My ride down easy street is over.After almost two weeks behind the wheel of a compressed natural gas-powered Chevrolet Tahoe for my own personal alternative fuel test, I had to give it up Friday afternoon. It was almost like being dumped, watching that big red SUV head down the street with someone else at the wheel. At least I’ll always have the memories. And a little more money in my wallet. CNG has been touted as a cheaper, cleaner alternative to gasoline. I can certainly vouch for the former argument. I spent just under $70 over the past 12 days on CNG while driving 752 miles in my borrowed Tahoe. I spent about half that that Friday afternoon on gasoline so I could send the bi-fuel Tahoe back to Carter Chevrolet and OEM Systems in Okarche with a full tank. It only needed about a quarter of a tank at $3.79 a gallon. That makes it clear that it is cheaper to use CNG as a vehicle fuel rather than gasoline, which averaged $3.756 a gallon in Oklahoma on Friday. CNG sells for as little as 88 cents a gallon of gasoline equivalent. Some skeptics have complained there are not enough places to buy CNG, but I didn’t find that to be true during my test drive. The first seven times I filled up (something that has to happen a lot more in an SUV with a 9-gallon fuel tank) I ended up at seven different places. The most I paid during one of those stops was only $9.58. That’s hard to beat. The question each of us must answer when considering whether to switch to CNG is whether it makes financial sense. It costs more to buy a CNG vehicle or have one converted, but available tax credits can team with fuel savings to make it more affordable. Currently there is no federal tax credit for natural gas vehicles, but pending legislation could change that. The rest of the added cost to switch to CNG likely could be made up rather quickly in reduced fuel costs. I’m not quite ready to buy a new car yet, but rest assured CNG will be part of the equation when I am.
Posted on Twitter by Chad Huntington, approximately 1 p.m.: “Hey @Project180: parking profiteers near arts festival are covering your great taxpayer-funded info signs with cardboard price signs.”
At 2:30 p.m. the sign was still be “re-purposed.” This gentleman didn’t seem too happy when he realized I wasn’t going to pay him $5 to park and instead was snapping a photo of the re-purposed city-owned sign. Gotta wonder if this grass lot they’re charging people to park on is zoned for paid parking.
Here’s a question suggested by a reader: what books about Oklahoma City would you recommend to new city council members Ed Shadid and David Greenwell?
Congratulations Laura. You earned this lovely evening. Just remember, don’t refer to it as a “park” – it’s the Myriad Gardens!
Some might wonder if that might be the professional judgment of Convention, Sports & Leisure after reading this report by the Pulitzer-prize caliber newspaper The Boston Globe on the consultant’s work with cities throughout the country. Oklahoma City never did a needs-study for a convention center; instead that job was left to the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, which hired CS&L. The entire study was never released to the public, though the chamber did release an executive summary of the report (I was allowed to privately view the report and saw nothing that went against the gist of the summary report; chamber officials were concerned about releasing propriety information).
A quote from the story:
Over the past decade Convention Sports & Leisure International has produced similar findings to support expansions in Philadelphia, San Antonio, Washington, New Orleans, and other cities. Despite finding widely different conditions from city to city, in nearly every circumstance the firm’s recommendation was construction of bigger exhibition halls and hotels. A second convention center consultant for Boston, HVS International, has made similar findings around the country. But many of the cities that subsequently expanded are not seeing the predicted economic benefits, and some of the facilities are struggling financially.
To read the entire story, go here.
A debate raged last year over whether there was any of the original exterior left to save on the 1902 building that SandRidge Energy wanted to raze to make way for a landscaped plaza. For the past several weeks demolition has been done floor by floor and it was difficult to get a view of the original building (it was masked with tilt-up concrete facade by Kerr-McGee in the 1960s).
These photos provide a glimpse of what was hidden behind the mask:
Downtown’s oldest building is now completely removed save for a couple of back walls facing the SandRidge parking garage.
Next in the SandRidge Commons project: demolition of the old Petroleum Club/auto hotel facing Kerr Park, continued renovation of SandRidge Tower, and if original plans are followed, restoration of the old Braniff Building.
NOTE: I understand there are a lot of emotions running high among some readers. But please try to refrain from personal attacks and name-calling.
I’m overdue in posting this update from Jay Marks:
Some astute readers pointed out my story in The Oklahoman on Sunday about the cost of switching to compressed natural gas as a vehicle fuel did not include any information about the cost of the fuel itself. I hope to remedy that here.
For the most part, CNG sells in Oklahoma City for $1.39 a gallon of gasoline equivalent. There also are a number of Oklahoma Natural Gas locations around the area that sell CNG for 88 cents a gallon.
Each gallon, which is about 5.66 pounds of natural gas, has the same energy content as a gallon of gasoline.
Before I embarked on my CNG test drive, I tracked my driving habits for about three weeks.
I average about 50 miles a day in my 2004 Chevrolet Blazer, which works out to about 18,000 miles a year (although that figure is conservative, since it doesn’t take into account any trips or family vacations).
It takes about 1,080 gallons of gasoline to cover that distance, based on the 16.6 miles a gallon I averaged during my 18-day tracking period, at a cost of about $4,000 — based on Monday’s average price of $3.702 a gallon in Oklahoma.
CNG, on the other hand, would cost only $1,500 if all mileage is equal.
That still remains to be seen.
My test Tahoe from Okarche’s Carter Chevrolet and OEM Systems has gotten about 15 miles a gallon since I started driving it last Monday.
I expected my gas mileage to be more in line with the 16 to 21 miles a gallon promised by the manufacturer, but I can’t complain about the price.
I’ve gone 553 miles, as of my arrival at work Monday morning, while spending only $48.54 on about 38 gallons of CNG.
I would have spent about $142 for the same amount of gasoline.
That’s something to consider if you’re thinking about switching to CNG.