ATLANTA — Georgia officials are debating whether to spend money collected from utility customers to build a network of natural gas filling stations around Atlanta and other major highways.

Atlanta Gas Light wants to spend roughly $11.5 million from a special fund to pay for half of the cost of installing compressed natural gas pumping gear at privately owned filling stations. The Public Service Commission will vote on the issue Tuesday.

Advocates of the plan say it's necessary to stimulate the market for natural gas vehicles. The fuel is cheaper and burns cleaner than gasoline. Right now, there are just a handful of filling stations open to the public.

Opponents argue the plan will use money collected from industrial customers and other sources to subsidize private businesses.