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On December 27, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) issued an announcement concerning the upcoming Interim Meeting of the National Conference of Weights and Measures to be held in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This is the organization that, among other things, establishes voluntary standards for determining how motor fuels are measured and dispensed at retail fueling stations. As we have previously reported, the NCWM is currently considering a proposal submitted by the Clean Vehicle Education Foundation (CVEF), and supported by NGVAmerica, that would allow CNG and LNG to be sold in diesel gallon equivalent (DGE) units. The NCWM adopted a gasoline gallon equivalent standard for CNG in 1994 and the standard has remained in place since and been adopted by all states.

The DGE proposal is currently a “discussion item” but could become a “voting issue” this summer if there is enough support for the measure. Participants at the Interim meeting could vote to make it a voting issue or it could be independently brought up as a voting issue prior to or at the Summer Meeting. Our hope is that enough delegates will support the measure at the Interim meeting, or prior to the Summer Meeting, to make this a voting issue so that it can be voted on and approved. Once approved, NCWM standards tend to be adopted by most states–although many states must independently act to approve the national standards and they can reject them or adopt alternative approaches if they wish.

As we have previously reported NIST’s notice indicates that some weights and measure officials have expressed concerns about continued use of energy equivalent values for motor fuels. In particular, the notice indicates that state officials and some CNG providers have raised concerns about whether the values used for CNG for gasoline gallon equivalent “provide an accurate estimate of the true energy content of natural gas.” The notice also indicates that the energy content values change and that there needs to be a mechanism in place to ensure that values are accurate and are routinely updated.

NGVAmerica and several members participated in regional NCWM meeting held in September and October. NGVAmerica also sent a letter to participating state officials urging them to support a DGE standard. We also have encouraged members to contact their state weights and measures officials to urge them to support this measure. If our industry is not more vocal in supporting this measure, it is possible that NCWM could recommend that

CNG and LNG be dispensed in pounds without use of an equivalency factor. We believe that that option would be problematic as it does not provide useful information to consumers and potential customers, and it does not align with the movement to tax alternative fuels based on energy content.