National Conference of Weights and Measures Votes Against Adoption of Diesel Gallon Equivalent (DGE)

As a follow up to the May Newsletter, the National Conference of Weights and Measures couldn’t reach a consensus whether or not to add a DGE unit of measurement for natural gas dispensed as a motor fuel.

There was good news and bad news for the NGV marketplace when the National Conference on Weights and Measures (NCWM) concluded its annual meeting in Detroit last week.

The good news first: There was considerable industry concern that NCWM could vote to adopt a kilogram standard for sales of CNG and LNG as a transportation fuel instead of the diesel gallon equivalent dispensing standard overwhelmingly favored by the industry: A NGV Today survey (p. 1) conducted earlier this year found that 95 percent of NGV stakeholders favor a gallon equivalent standard. There were not a sufficient number of votes cast at the NCWM meeting to adopt a kilogram standard. The bad news was that there were also not enough votes cast at the meeting to adopt a DGE standard for sale of LNG and CNG.

The issue arose last year after the Clean Vehicle Education Foundation submitted a proposal to NCWM last year to adopt a DGE standard for sales of CNG and LNG as a transportation fuel. Todd Campbell, vice president for public policy and regulatory affairs at Clean Energy Fuels, laid out the case for adoption of a DGE standard in a commentary that appeared in NGV Today in April of this year (p. 9). Industry leaders see adoption of a DGE standard as crucial to ensuring uniformity in how CNG and LNG are dispensed throughout the country and to injecting greater transparency into pump prices, facilitating the ability of fleet owners, managers and truck drivers to quickly compare CNG and LNG prices to diesel prices. With pricing heavily in favor of natural gas fuels, such transparency would help drive home the message that fleets can save money by fuel switching to natural gas.

NCWM adopted a uniform standard for sale of CNG in GGEs in 1994 but has never adopted a standard for sales of LNG in gallon equivalents. The practical outcome of the NCWM meeting that wrapped up last week is that for the time being, LNG will continue to be sold in DGE and CNG will continue to be sold in GGE. But with no NCWM standard adopted, there will be no nationwide protocol to ensure uniformity among all states in terms of how a DGE of LNG is measured. Similarly, there will be no nationwide protocol to ensure that CNG is sold in DGEs.

Earlier this year NCWM’s natural gas steering committee voted to recommend that NCWM adopt a DGE standard at last week’s annual meeting. However, NGV industry leaders were concerned that some of the steering committee members who voted in favor of a DGE standard hoped that a competing proposal to enact a kilogram standard would be proposed and be adopted at last week’s annual meeting. NGV leaders are rightfully concerned that adoption of a kilogram standard would inject chaos into the natural gas transportation market, confusing fleet owners, managers and drivers about what they were paying for fuel and dissuade fleets from deploying NGVs. The NGV stakeholder community mobilized to contact their elected representatives and state weights and measures officials and let them know that they strongly favored a DGE standard and opposed a kilogram standard.

A proposal to adopt a kilogram standard was in fact introduced at the annual meeting, meaning that NCWM faced two competing proposals – one to establish a DGE standard and the other to establish a kilogram standard. At last week’s meeting, 29 state weights and measures officials voted in favor of the DGE standard proposal, enough to see the proposal pass, however only 14 other voting delegates – generally county level weights and measures regulators – voted in favor of the DGE standard. The net result is that there were not enough votes to carry the day for the DGE standard or adopt a kilogram standard.

The dispensing standard issue now reverts to NCWM’s natural gas steering committee and will be discussed at regional NCWM meetings scheduled for this fall. In the aftermath of last week’s meeting, NGV leaders remain wary. Individuals who attended the NCWM meeting told NGV Today that the majority of weights and measures officials who voted possess strong convictions that CNG and LNG should be dispensed in kilograms and only voted for a DGE standard because they had been instructed to do so by their governors or state agency directors. Some NCWM officials complained that the standards setting process had been politicized. Two dozen U.S. Senators weighed in with a letter to NCWM saying that they thought the DGE proposal would better serve consumers than the kilogram proposal.

NGV leaders say they think it may be difficult to have a DGE standard adopted in the near future due to the predilections expressed at the NCWM meeting. But they say it’s important for the industry to guard against a renewed effort by NCWM officials to adopt a kilogram standard at the organization’s annual meeting in Philadelphia in July 2015.

 

Article courtesy of:  NGV TODAY