NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Frank Fletcher just bought his first CNG car. The owner of Fletcher Auto Group recently traveled to Dallas to check out T. Boone Pickens' set up of natural gas stations and after the trip, he's convinced it could change not only the Arkansas economy, but the Nation's as well.
"We would all be paying a dollar and something for fuel, we'd be out of the mid east and I think it's an easy solution," says Fletcher.
Fletcher owns an auto group in Central Arkansas and recently spent time with Billionaire Investor, T. Boone Pickens talking about his venture to expand the natural gas market.
"Mr. Pickens' goal is to try to get congress to vote that all federal vehicles will be converted over," says Fletcher.
Fletcher says the vehicles drive with the same amount of power with between 30-40 percent of emissions. The only problem...
"The manufacturers say there's not very many places to fill them up," says Fletcher.
There is only one facility in North Little Rock to fill up on natural gas and it's located on Curtis Sykes Drive. The $750,000 gas station was built back in 2011 by the city, a grant from the state and other partners. Right now natural gas sells for only a $1.44 per gallon.
"Probably the average price of diesel has been close to four dollars over the last six months. So, we're saving, we're buying gas at half price," says North Little Rock Director of Commerce and Government Affairs, Joe Smith.
North Little Rock already runs 16 CNG powered vehicles and 9 of those are police cars. Smith says they plan to expand the CNG fleet and possibly build more natural gas stations. Fletcher believes it will take government action to put more CNG cars on the roads.
"If we could get the government to go in with private enterprise the manufacturers would immediately build these cars," says Fletcher.
According to North Little Rock officials, the CNG powered vehicles cost about 20-25 percent more than regular gas-powered cars.
AT& T recently bought 15 CNG powered vehicles and they fuel up at the North Little Rock natural gas station.