A natural gas rate cut that went into effect Thursday in Utah has also been implemented in Questar's fueling stations for vehicles, where the gallon-equivalent price of 73.6 cents is now 63.9 cents.

That means the Honda Civic GX — the only new vehicle on the market in Utah that is designed to run on natural gas and rated at 39 miles per gallon — would have a per-mile fuel cost of 1.6 cents, compared to 7.7 cents if the same vehicle used gasoline costing $3 per gallon.

Questar sells natural gas for vehicles cheaper than the rate it charges homeowners, because the company is currently passing through to customers a 32-cent-per-gallon federal tax credit designed to promote the use and development of alternative-fuel vehicles.

Questar operates the nation's second-largest network of compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicle fueling stations, only trailing California. "People don't realize how good we've got it in Utah," said Gordon Larsen, supervisor of Questar's natural gas for vehicles program. "The thing that most people don't realize is that in Utah, we have the cheapest (natural) gas."

As a vehicle fuel, natural gas is most popular with businesses, taxis, shuttle buses and fleet operators, including Jordan School District, although the popularity of CNG vehicles grows among individuals at times when the price of gasoline is climbing, Larsen said. Questar's CNG stations have seen a 40- to 60-percent increase in use over the past several years, Larsen said.

Besides the fact that price increases are regulated by the state's Public Service Commission, Larsen said, the fuel supply in the West is currently greater than pipeline capacity to deliver it, which drives the price from fuel suppliers down, Larsen said. "Until we get more pipelines, we're going to be riding that bubble for a while."


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