Simplifying Propane Autogas Dispensers

2014 World LP Gas Forum Photo Album

perc-wlpgf14-superiorOne of the keys to getting more propane-powered vehicles on the road is getting more propane autogas fueling infrastructure and making it safe and simple for users.

Superior Energy Systems offers a whole line of autogas dispensing systems and during a Propane Education & Research Council event at the World LP Gas Forum, Mike Walters talked about how they are making it so easy your grandmother can use it. “The whole idea is to get autogas fueling to the point of being so similar to gasoline that people aren’t afraid of it,” said Walters, showing off what they nicknamed the Granny Nozzle. “It’s so simple that granny can pull into the C-store and fuel up her SUV without having to have personal protective equipment.”

“What we’re talking about here is low emission transfer versus no emission transfer,” Walters said.

Listen to Walters here and watch the video below to see the system. Mike Walters, Superior Energy Systems

PERC Names Top Propane Autogas Green Fleet

alpha-bakingChicago-based Alpha Baking Company received this year’s Propane Autogas Fleet award from the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) at the annual Green Fleet Conference & Expo in Schaumburg, Illinois this week.

The award honors one public or private fleet every year for leadership in sustainability by switching to clean, American-made propane autogas. Alpha Baking, a national bakery products distributor and home to the iconic S. Rosen’s brand, developed and implemented 22 Ford E-450 bread delivery trucks in 2012 with the help of Roush CleanTech.

“Alpha Baking’s primary reason for adopting propane autogas was because it was the right thing to do. Propane autogas reduces harmful emissions, it’s made in the U.S., it reduces our dependency on foreign oil, it’s efficient, and it keeps our communities clean,” said Bob McGuire, Alpha Baking’s vice president and director of logistics, who accepted the award during the Green Fleet Awards ceremony. “Choosing vehicles that run on American-made propane autogas has also allowed us to lower fuel costs without sacrificing performance.”

Hear more about Alpha Baking’s experience with propane autogas in PERC’s latest Straight Talk video at propanestraighttalk.com.

PERC Debuts New Videos at World LPG Forum

perc-wlpgf-willisThe Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) released a series of online videos with leading U.S. equipment manufacturers highlighting their investment in developing and commercializing new propane technologies. The videos debuted to an international crowd at the 2014 World LP Gas Forum in Miami, where they ran continuously on screens in the PERC showcase at the event.

Companies featured in the series include Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp., Generac, Kohler Engines and Power Systems, Marathon, Origin Engines, Power Solutions International, and Roush CleanTech. “These world-class companies continue to build and commercialize new equipment that runs on propane for good reason: Propane is a smart investment. It’s clean, economical, and it performs,” said Roy Willis, PERC president and CEO. “On top of that, these companies stand behind propane because it’s an American-made fuel that supports American jobs and our domestic energy independence.”

At the LPG forum, Willis spoke to members of various industry publications that focus on different sectors where propane is used – from agriculture and on-road, to commercial landscaping, building and residential. PERC is an industry checkoff program which has been in existence since 1998, and Willis explained how they have transitioned in recent years from a focus on marketing and advertising to developing new technologies. “The industry recognized that to grow our industry we needed to expand beyond our existing customer base and to do so we needed propane technology that customer base could use,” said Willis.

Listen to Willis’ comments here: Roy Willis, PERC president and CEO

2014 World LP Gas Forum Photo Album

CleanFUEL USA Adds Mass Flow Meter Technology

wlpgf-clean-fuelAt the World LP Gas Forum in Miami this week, CleanFUEL USA announced the addition of mass flow meter technology to its line of propane autogas refueling dispensers.

Global demand is high for mass flow technology, the most advanced meter technology in the world, and CleanFUEL USA is offering immediate availability for the first time in the United States and worldwide. “There’s been a great demand in the world for this technology, more so outside the U.S.,” said Chrystelle Markley with CleanFUEL. “We thought it was important for us, as a technology leader, to bring this technology to the U.S.”

Demand for propane autogas is higher in European and Latin American countries. “There’s about 15 million vehicles in the world running on propane gas, in the United States less than 200,000 today,” said CleanFUEL’s Wayne Moore. “So, the U.S. has the opportunity to increase the amount of vehicles here.”

Mass flow meter benefits include no moving parts, greatly reduced maintenance, remote diagnostics and lifetime calibration.

Listen to an interview with CleanFUEL from the World LP Gas Forum: Interview with Wayne Moore and Chrystelle Markley, CleanFUEL USA

2014 World LP Gas Forum Photo Album

A Global View of LP Gas

perc-wlpgf14-welcomeWelcome to Miami and the 27th annual World LP Gas Forum!

The World LP Gas Association has members in 130 countries and a good percentage of those are represented here at this event. Because it’s in the United States this year, the Propane Education and Research Council (PERC) has a special presence to showcase new innovations for propane use in a variety of markets, including on-road.

perc-wlpgf14-alisonAlison Abbot, marketing and communications director for the World LP Gas Association, says the event moves around the globe each year. “It’s the first time since 2008 we’ve been in the United States, the last time was in Chicago,” said Abbot. Last year it was in London and next year it will be in Singapore.

Abbot says PERC is a very active member of the WLPGA and the work the organization is doing in promotion and research of new markets and innovations for propane. “We work very closely with PERC,” she said. “What we do as the world association is we take what fellow associations like PERC in the United States do and act as a central hub to disseminate it out.”

Listen to my interview with Alison here: Interview with Alison Abbot, World LP Gas Association

2014 World LP Gas Forum Photo Album

Energy Fuels Big Year for GROWMARK

Growmark_logoEnergy was a big reason that regional cooperative GROWMARK had such a big year this year. This company news release says Fiscal Year 2014 was in the top five income years in company history, and a lot of the credit goes to record volumes in the company’s propane and biofuels business.

bohbrinkMarshall Bohbrink, vice president and chief financial officer, reported record sales of $10.4 billion; consolidated pretax income of $194 million; and total patronage in the amount of $112 million will be returned to GROWMARK member-owners.

“GROWMARK is in extremely strong financial condition and we are well positioned in the event the Ag economy is more challenging in the next few years,” said Bohbrink.

Key highlights of FY2014 operational results include:

GROWMARK Energy reported record fuel volume with an increase in gasoline and distillate sales of 11% and an increase of 29 percent in propane gallons.

Propane – There’s an App for That

PERC Propane Autogas CalculatorThere is a new app for propane. The Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) released a suite of cost calculator tools designed for customers in three of the industry’s fastest-growing markets: agriculture, commercial landscape, and on road fleets. The calculators estimate potential fuel savings and ROI when using propane as compared with conventional fuels such as gasoline and diesel.

“One of the main reasons fleets, agribusiness operators or commercial landscapers consider making a switch to an alternative fuel like propane is simple: They want to improve their bottom line,” said Tucker Perkins, PERC’s chief business development officer. “With these new applications, equipment dealers, propane providers, and customers can easily calculate fuel costs with propane specific to their market and operations. And with the online and mobile tools, they can share results on the spot via email.”

The PERC cost calculator series currently includes the Propane Irrigation Engine Calculator, Propane Mower Calculator and Propane Autogas Calculator – all available in multiple different platforms.

PERC: Winter Propane Supplies Looking Good

propane-logo1Propane supplies going into the winter are looking good this year. The Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) is citing U.S. Energy Information Administration information that expects a warmer winter and a propane stocks up 17 percent from a year ago in the Gulf Coast and Midwest, along with a 12 percent increase in production from 2013.

“These are positive signs,” said Roy Willis, president and CEO of the Propane Education & Research Council, “but our industry is working hard to ensure our customers are prepared. Propane retailers across the country remain focused on safety and encouraging customers to consider early fills, automatic refills, and payment programs now before cold weather hits.”

PERC launched a $5.5 million consumer safety and preparedness campaign in early September directing residential heating customers and agribusiness operators, among others, to propanecomfort.com. On the site, propane customers can take a quiz to determine if they are prepared for winter and review energy efficiency tips. Visitors can also sign up for news updates from PERC.

“Preliminary numbers for the campaign show that nearly 20,000 customers have already taken advantage of our online resources and we expect to see continued engagement as we get closer to winter,” said Willis.

PERC will TV ads through Thanksgiving in 30 states most affected by deliverability challenges and temporary price increases last winter.

Cleveland Regional Transit Adopts Propane Buses

The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) has adopted propane autogas. The organization has purchased paratransit shuttle buses to transport persons with disabilities. The first of its kind in Ohio, according to RTA, the new shuttles are projected to save $21,000 per vehicle in fuel costs and maintenance over a six-year period. The agency will recoup its investment in just over one year.

RTA Paratransit“We learned of other transit agencies that were successful using propane autogas technology to save money and lower their environmental impact,” said Joe Calabrese, CEO and general manager of the Greater Cleveland RTA. “When you can save money while saving the planet, it’s a no-brainer.”

Built on a Ford E-450 chassis, each paratransit shuttle bus is equipped with a ROUSH CleanTech liquid propane autogas fuel system installed by Green Alternative Systems. ElDorado National-Kansas designed the body of its Aerotech bus model on a fiberglass composite reinforced structure. The floor plan configuration features a wheelchair lift to accommodate passengers with disabilities. With more than 700,000 trips annually, the paratransit shuttles operate on-demand to qualified customers.

“We’ve combined a proven, durable, lightweight bus design with leading-edge alternative fuel technology to produce a cost-effective vehicle for paratransit shuttle service,” said Jeff Montgomery, president of ElDorado National-Kansas. “We are proud to join our dealer Meyers Equipment and ROUSH CleanTech to meet the special transportation needs of the Greater Cleveland RTA.”

The RTA is one of the largest transit systems in the nation. Currently, the agency is building an onsite propane autogas fueling station.

Corn Harvest Could Affect Propane Supplies, Prices

A big corn harvest this year could affect the supply and price of propane, a big fuel for drying the crop. This story from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) says if the weather allows farmers to dry their crops in the field before harvest, there will be plenty of supply, and prices will be stable … unlike last year’s wet harvest time.
propanechart2
Last year, propane demand in the top five corn-producing states increased in October to levels that rivaled the normal peak demand in January, drawing down propane inventories before the heating season began. Propane inventories in the Midwest were drawn down by 4.1 million barrels (130,000 bbl/d) in October, which was the largest October stock draw since 1985.

As a result, Midwest inventories of propane started the heating season at relatively low levels and remained at the bottom of the five-year range through December. Logistical problems, including the closure for maintenance of the Cochin Pipeline that transported propane from Canada to the Upper Midwest and disruptions of rail transportation, prevented Midwest inventories from being replenished before winter began. With prolonged cold weather in January and February, propane inventories dipped well below the five-year range.

EIA says propane inventories in the Midwest are higher going into this harvest season, and the supplies should be in good shape, despite the fact that the Cochin Pipeline was reversed earlier this year and now moves condensate from the Midwest to Canada. Those supplies going to Canada will be replaced by additional supplies from domestic sources and better rail and storage capacity.

Southland Transportation Buses Go Propane

Southland Transportation recently added 101 Blue Bird Propane Vision buses to its propane autogas school bus fleet. The company is a subsidiary of the largest family-owned pupil transportation provider in Canada with operations in school, motor coach and public transportation. The new Propane Vision buses will transport students from the Calgary Board of Education (CBE) and Medicine Hat School District No. 76.

Southland Transportation first started operating Blue Bird Propane Vision buses in 2007 with good results. The company’s corporate commitment to the environment can be seen throughout all facets of the organization gI_65907_Southland Keysfrom anti-idling programs to recycling programs. Southland Transportation’s environmental policies also play a factor with onsite fuel options. With non-toxic properties and an uncomplicated set-up, propane autogas is the only fueling infrastructure that Southland Transportation permits on its properties.

“Our Propane Visions have been a proven performer. Due to the clean-operation and straightforward technology, I would estimate that each propane bus annually saves us about $500 in basic maintenance costs,” said Tom Jezersek, vice president at Southland Transportation. “As a former licensed mechanic, I am well-versed to the advantages of propane autogas. These buses are safe, reliable and immediately start in temperatures as low as minus 30 degrees Celsius, without the use of oil pan heaters or block heaters. Our drivers also enjoy the buses as they are quiet, powerful and come to temperature very quickly. Propane autogas is an excellent choice for districts.”

The Calgary Board of Education, located in Calgary, Alberta, transports over 3,400 students to 65 area schools utilizing Blue Bird Propane Vision school buses. Already operating 32 Propane Vision buses Southland Transportation recently added an additional 59 propane-powered school buses to the district’s fleet bringing the total Propane Vision fleet to 91.

Mobile County Public Schools Converts to Propane

The Mobile County Public Schools will be moving their students this fall with 30 propane autogas buses. The school district is supporting the community outreach campaign, “It Starts With Us” and their first step is the converted Blue Bird Propane Visions buses.

“The deployment of our propane autogas bus fleet is a perfect example of our school system’s initiative, It Starts With Us,” said Pat Mitchell, director of transportation for Mobile County Public Schools. “We are providing dependable and clean student transportation while saving taxpayers money so we can put it back in the classroom where it counts most.”

MCPSS Propane Autogas school busOfficials rolled out the new buses during the MCPSS Transportation Department on International Drive. “Propane is cheaper, cleaner and domestically produced,” said Alabama Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey, who took a test ride on one of the new propane buses. “This is an environmental initiative I can get behind.”

“We are pleased to be the very first school system in Alabama to enhance transportation through the use of propane buses,” said Superintendent Martha Peek. “We have taken this step because we understand the advantages are increased fuel efficiency, economic and environmental.”

Each bus will displace about 40,000 gallons of diesel and emit 150,000 fewer pounds of carbon dioxide over their lifetime and the fuel costs nearly 50 percent less than per gallon than diesel according to Todd Mouw with ROUSH Cleantech.

Before choosing to fuel with propane autogas, the school district’s transportation department performed a comprehensive evaluation. This process included safety research, cost savings analysis, site visits to school systems that operate buses with propane autogas, and phone interviews with transportation directors.

“The schoolchildren and taxpayers of Mobile benefit from this important decision,” said Dale Wendell, Blue Bird’s chief commercial officer. “The adoption of Blue Bird Propane Vision buses further emphasizes Mobile County Public Schools’ forward-thinking leadership and commitment to reduce fuel and maintenance costs, support a domestically produced fuel, and provide cleaner air for the students and the community.”

PERC Updates Brand, Logo

Propane logoThe Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) has updated its brand identity for propane: PROPANE Clean American Energy. In addition, they have revealed a new logo. According to PERC President and CEO Roy Willis, the logo highlights propane as an American-made alternative fuel at a time when U.S. propane production from natural gas liquids is at record levels. He also said the change puts a spotlight on recent investments by the propane industry in new technologies.

“We hope PROPANE Clean American Energy will increase consideration of propane as a clean, affordable, and American-made alternative to conventional fuels among fleets, commercial landscapers, contractors, producers, and homeowners,” said Willis. “Increasing domestic demand for propane in the U.S. will ultimately lead to cleaner air and increased use of our nation’s own energy resources, rather than relying on foreign oil.”

The new logo and tagline will be used in all PERC-produced materials and will be made available free of charge to propane providers and OEM partners. The new logo will also replace the previous mark used by thousands of propane retailers nationwide on signs, delivery vehicles, equipment, websites, and literature. In addition, the new logo will be featured in the organization’s new multimedia safety campaign to encourage agribusiness operators and residential propane heating customers to fill up in advance of the winter season.

Willis added, “America makes more than enough propane to meet U.S. demand. As PERC rolls out this important safety campaign and new branding identity, the propane industry is prepared to meet the needs of a changing energy economy.”

Feds: Propane Inventories Growing Strong

Propane uses, especially Midwestern farmers, are hoping to avoid a repeat of last winter’s high prices, low inventories and logistical and infrastructure challenges that caused some real problems last year. The latest information from the U.S. Energy Information Administration shows that while inventories are below average, they’re above the numbers from a year ago and are trending upwards in the last few weeks.

While inventory levels in the Midwest remain below the five-year average, above-average builds over the past six weeks are an encouraging trend. Last year, propane inventories in the Midwest (PADD 2) for the week ending August 9 were 21.5 million barrels, 3.4 million barrels below the five-year average. This year, PADD 2 propane inventories for the week ending August 8 are 23.4 million barrels, 1.9 million barrels higher than last year, but still 1.6 million barrels below the five-year average. However, in each of the past six weeks, PADD 2 propane inventory builds have surpassed their five-year averages, leading to a steady improvement in stock levels relative to their historical norms…
propaneAug2014a
Last year, demand for propane used to dry crops in the Upper Midwest surged just before the start of winter and, as a result, propane inventories at distribution terminals were low before the start of winter heating season. In addition, distribution infrastructure challenges, pipeline maintenance, and rail delivery delays reduced supplies. This year, inventories are building earlier; however, there have been changes in infrastructure that could impact supply. The Cochin Pipeline, which delivered propane to the Upper Midwest from Canada, has been reversed and repurposed, removing a major source of propane supplies to the region.

Propane market participants have responded to the events of last winter and the Cochin reversal by diversifying supply sources. Instead of relying on propane delivered from Canada via Cochin, the region will now rely more on several existing pipelines to deliver propane north to the Upper Midwest from Conway. Additionally, propane rail capacity in the region has expanded via new propane rail terminals throughout the region. Finally, existing distribution terminals have added tanks, thus expanding storage capacity.

The report goes on to say that there will be continued infrastructure challenges for winter propane deliveries in the Midwest and the Northeast will have to rely on imports from Canada. In addition, an expected record corn harvest this year could put pressure on supplies again in the form of propane used for crop drying, but that will depend on fall weather patterns and harvest timing. How cold the winter is will as be the the most important and most difficult-to-predict factor influencing the propane supply-demand balance this winter.

Propane Expands Use on the Farm

propane-logo1Farmers across the country are turning more and more to propane for their operations. A new study sponsored by the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) shows that farmers looking to cut fuel costs, increase efficiencies, and meet strict emissions standards are turning to the clean-burning fuel.


Propane is currently used by more than 40 percent of farms in the U.S. According to a survey conducted by PERC and Artemis Strategy Group, the most common uses for propane among farmers are building heating (47 percent) and grain drying (35 percent).

The survey also showed that the role of propane on farms is changing, as more farmers are choosing propane to fuel vehicles and irrigation systems over other alternative fuels such as natural gas. According to the survey, 14 percent are using propane to fuel a vehicle on the farm (compared with natural gas at one percent) and five percent are using propane for irrigation (compared with natural gas at two percent).

“The results show that farmers trust propane as a reliable, convenient, American-made fuel,” Cinch Munson, PERC director of agriculture business development, said. “Every year, new, fuel-efficient propane-powered irrigation engines, grain dryers, work trucks, and forklifts are hitting the market. As more options become available, more farmers will turn to propane for greater efficiency and fuel savings.”

The survey also shows that farmers like using propane, as favorability ratings hit about 84 percent for propane, compared with 61 percent for natural gas and 33 percent for heating oil. PERC also touted its partnerships with equipment manufacturers with research and development investments to commercialize new propane-powered products or advance the energy efficiency of existing applications.