National Conference on Weights and Measures DGE Standard

Establishing a standard for dispensing CNG and LNG in diesel gallon equivalent (DGE) units is important for the continued use of natural gas in trucking and other applications that traditionally use diesel fuel. The natural gas industry has requested that the National Conference on Weights and Measures (NCWM) adopt a DGE unit for CNG and LNG that is sold to truckers and other users who typically use diesel fuel.

From the purchaser’s perspective, the pump display and readings would show the number of DGE units dispensed and information would be provided on the pump to show how natural gas is converted to DGE units. This is the only rational way to offer CNG and LNG when sold to truck operators. Under the proposal, LNG would only be sold in DGE units since LNG is expected to be used exclusively as a heavy duty vehicle fuel. CNG would be dispensed in GGE units at retail outlets serving the general public and would be sold in DGE units on pumps selling to trucks and heavy duty vehicles.

Standards adopted by NCWM in 1994 require CNG to be sold in gasoline gallon equivalents (GGE). That standard has benefited consumers and industry alike because it provides a common unit for comparing the average energy in CNG to the average energy in a gasoline gallon. It also provides a ready means of informing consumers as to the relative economic cost of natural gas compared to gasoline. All of the retail pumps used today in the U.S. use the GGE unit for dispensing CNG and all retail stations price CNG in GGE units. Moreover, many states increasingly are using the GGE as the most appropriate unit for taxing CNG.

The need for this action is driven by the fact that there currently is significant national interest in promoting increased use of natural gas in heavy duty vehicles where diesel fuel has traditionally been used. The federal government and many state governments currently have in place policies intended to expand the use of natural gas as a transportation fuel. Private firms are investing hundreds of millions of dollars establishing a national network of retail fueling stations to supply this fuel to motor vehicles. Development of a weights and measures standard for a DGE of natural gas will complement the effort made 20 years ago to create the GGE standard.

The NCWM DGE Standard Call to Action

NGVAmerica is leading efforts for the creation of the DGE standard. However, involvement from the broader NGV industry and others with an interest in realizing a DGE standard need to show their support by writing to their state representatives and, if possible, by attending and speaking at key NCWM meetings.

Below are links to more information on state representatives.  If your state is represented on the L&R or S&T Committees, it would be helpful to also write those officials.

As of this May, ten states now officially recognize the DGE standard as the legal method of sale for natural gas.  The latest state to do so was New Mexico, which on May 14 issued final regulations recognizing DGE for CNG and LNG.

History of the DGE Standard Proposal
In July 2015, the National Conference on Weights and Measures (NCWM) voted on and failed to pass the diesel gallon equivalent (DGE) standard for selling natural gas at retail fueling stations. The DGE proposal received sufficient votes to pass in the House of Representatives with 32 of 40 states in attendance voting for the DGE measure. Like last year, however, the measure failed to receive sufficient support in the House of Delegates where the vote was 31 delegates against and 26 delegates in favor. Despite overwhelming supportive public comments and testimony during the meeting’s open hearing, there continues to be strong opposition from a handful of states, including California. By some counts (they don’t conduct a roll call in the House of Delegates) there were as many as 20 California officials on hand voting in the House of Delegates. Despite this opposition, California actually is one of the ten states that now has enacted legislation recognizing the DGE method of sale for natural gas, and the state’s top weights and measure official who sits in the House of Representatives voted for the DGE.

The NCWM process for adopting standards once again proved frustrating for natural gas advocates.  The rules provide that each state gets one vote in the House of Representatives but for the House of Delegates, the voting includes all weights and measures officials in attendance and includes county and city officials.  One thing that has hurt this effort is the fact that the states who oppose the DGE tend to send more delegates than the states that support the DGE effort, and of course the resistance from local California regulators has not helped.  Also, industry representatives who are members of NCWM do not have a vote in either body.

The DGE proposal now goes back to the committee level for additional consideration.  The status of this issue could be revised to Informational or Developing if the NCWM feels like the issue needs more work before being voted on again, or it could be brought back without change as a voting item.  The NCWM votes on standards each summer at its annual meetings, so the next opportunity for this issue at NCWM will occur next July in Denver, Colorado.

In July 2014, NCWM voted on the DGE proposal at its Annual Meeting in Detroit, Michigan. The measure was not adopted. To pass, the proposal had to be approved by NCWM’s two “Houses”—the House of State Representatives and the House of Delegates. The House of State Representatives is composed of one voting member from each state. The DGE proposal received sufficient votes to pass in the House of Representatives with 29 states voting in support of the measure and nine states voted against the measure (several states abstained from the vote). The House of Delegates is composed of all active members present and registered at the Annual Meeting. There is no limit on the number of delegates from a state, and all county and city weights and measures officials in attendance can vote (Industry representatives who are members of NCWM do not have a vote in either body). The only full members who cannot vote in the House of Delegates are those members of the House of Representatives. The proposal failed in the House of Delegates where the vote was 27 against and 14 in favor.

The vote means that the current GGE unit for CNG has remained in place without change. CNG station operators can continue selling it in GGE units but will not have the option of selling CNG in DGE to truckers as had been proposed.

See below to view letters from Governors, Members of Congress and industry representatives in support of this issue.

 Last Reviewed: October 8, 2015