The Philadelphia Gas Works wants to use its own fuel to power its fleet.

The utility has asked Philadelphia City Council for $438,000 to buy 24 vehicles that run on compressed natural gas.

The cars could be a powerful marketing tool as well as less expensive to operate, according to John Coogan of PGW.

"It will demonstrate the feasibility of running a natural gas vehicle fleet and it will promote the benefits of a natural gas vehicle fleet, demonstrating it's a cheaper fuel at $2 a gallon compared to about $3.50 for traditional gasoline," he said.

Council was supportive of the idea, but several members voiced concern that the proposed purchase does not include any minority-owned firms. They wanted assurances that minority participation will be made up in future purchases.

Ken Williams, director of diversity at PGW, answered questions from Council members about why there is no minority participation in the purchase.

The representative dealers that sell these compressed natural gas vehicles have to send so many employees to training, Williams said.

"There are capital costs involved including training and the purchase of parts and, to this point we have not been able to identify a [Disadvantaged Business Enterprise] vendor among the Honda dealers," he said.