Farmers Save with Propane

According to a survey from the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) 2013 Propane Farm Incentive Program, farmers who installed propane-powered irrigation engines cut their fuel costs by 56 percent per hour compared with similar diesel-powered engines. Participants in the 2013 Propane Farm Incentive Program also reduced overall fuel consumption by 37 percent per hour, the survey data showed.

“The feedback from our participating farmers shows that, without a doubt, clean, American-made propane is a cost effective and efficient fuel source for irrigation,” said Mark Leitman, director of business development and marketing at PERC. “New technologies, like propane-powered irrigation engines, help farmers cut their input costs and increase overall farm profits.”

20130702_PERC_173The results were based on self-reported performance and post-season survey data from 148 program participants in 16 states. Participating farmers installed and demonstrated 214 propane irrigation engines, displacing 180,000 gallons of diesel, and irrigating a total of 21,700 acres of 17 different crops nationwide. Farmers demonstrated 16 different engine models from six original equipment manufacturers.

Propane irrigation engines also garnered high performance and overall satisfaction ratings from program participants. Eighty-six percent of participants who bought a new propane irrigation engine to replace another engine reported that the new propane irrigation engine performed better. Participants rated the performance of their new propane engine 33 percent higher than the diesel engine they replaced. In addition, 93 percent of participants said they were likely or highly like to buy another propane irrigation engine. More than 70 percent of program participants had also considered purchasing a diesel engine, but when they studied the facts, determined propane was the better option.

Producers can still earn up to $5,000 to upgrade to cost-saving, fuel-efficient propane-powered farm equipment, including irrigation engines, grain dryers, building heaters, and other eligible equipment through the 2014 Propane Farm Incentive program.

Propane Users Urged to Get Equipment Ready

Propane-Council logoSpring is in the air, and planting is either started or getting ready to get started across the country. The Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) is urging farmers who use their fuel to make sure spring preparation includes prepping that propane-fueled equipment.

Irrigation Engines
After a long winter, rodents, debris, and exposure to the elements are the most common source of engine issues, said Pete Stout, product manager for Origin Engines. Stout encourages farmers to refer to their product manuals for maintenance needs specific to their engine models, and offers these tips for preparing irrigation engines for spring planting:

* Disconnect the engine battery and check battery voltage.
* Clear away any dirt and debris that have collected on and around the engine. Pay special attention to clutch bellhousings, radiator shrouds, and wire harnesses.
* Inspect wire harnesses for cracked or exposed wires and make repairs if necessary.
* Check front drive belts for proper tension and wear.
“I also urge farmers to place engines inside of structures, such as a simple carport style shelter, for the summer growing season,” Stout said. “UV sunlight and general exposure to extreme weather can be tough on engine power units.”

PERC goes on to suggest that before that spring storm rolls through and knocks out power, propane generators are checked and cleaned. Pickup trucks running on the clean fuel also need to be properly maintained to get the most out of the efficiency propane autogas can bring. The same goes for forklifts and other propane-powered equipment.

In addition, you can check out PERC’s Propane Farm Incentive Program, which could make up to $5,000 available to farmers who switch to propane. More information is available here.

Broward County Schools Convert to Propane

Broward County Public Schools, the nation’s sixth largest school district, has purchased 98 propane autogas fueled school buses. The purchase supports the top 10 school district’s environmental stewardship program, “Learn Green. Live Green.” This is the nation’s largest single order of autogas fueled buses by a school district.

“We’ll be using these buses for our high mileage routes due to the substantial cost and maintenance savings with clean and safe autogas,” said Pat Snell, director of student transportation and fleet services for Broward County Public Schools. “Some of the savings will be funneled directly back into the classroom.”

schoolbusesSnell anticipates the county will see a six-month return on investment for the additional cost of the alternative fuel buses. According to Snell, the county will lock in an autogas fuel price at substantially less than their diesel cost. Historically, autogas costs about 50 percent less than diesel per gallon and reduces maintenance costs due to its clean-burning properties.

According to Snell, each bus will travel about 17,000 miles per year and each bus will displace about 40,000 gallons of diesel and emit 150,000 fewer pounds of carbon dioxide over their lifetime.

“School districts are eager for cleaner, lower emissions solutions that also work with their budgets. The Blue Bird Propane-Powered Vision and Micro Bird meet these needs with lower fuel and maintenance costs, decreased noise and environmental benefits,” said Phil Horlock, president and CEO of Blue Bird Corporation. “We applaud Broward County Public Schools for their forward-thinking leadership in the state of Florida.”

The purchase qualifies Broward County Public Schools to apply for funding through a state rebate program. The Florida incentive waives state taxes for gaseous alternative fuels, which include propane autogas and natural gas.

The school district purchased the buses from Florida Transportation Systems, the authorized Blue Bird dealer in Florida. The Blue Bird Propane-Powered Visions, each equipped with a ROUSH CleanTech fuel system, include a 100-gallon extended range tank that provides a 93-usable gallon capacity. Delivery begins in May for operation for the 2014-2015 school year.

PERC Recognizes Top Clean Cities Coalitions

Five Clean Cities Coalitions were awarded with the first ever Outstanding Propane Supporter awards at the Energy Independence Summit in Washington, D.C. by the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC). The award recipients included Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition, Greater Indiana Clean Cities Coalition, Clean Fuels Ohio, Dallas-Fort Worth Clean Cities, and Virginia Clean Cities. They were given the award in recognition of Propane-Council logotheir promotion of the use of propane autogas and other alternative fuels through grants, training programs, and community outreach. Their support of clean, American-made propane autogas has led to major adoptions of propane autogas vehicles in their states and across the U.S.

“For 20 years, Clean Cities has built partnerships with local and statewide organizations to encourage the adoption of alternative fuels and new transportation technology,” PERC President and CEO Roy Willis said. “Our Outstanding Propane Supporter award winners are examples of how public and private partnerships in the transportation sector are creating a cleaner future for fleets and communities nationwide.”

About the award winners:

  • Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition works with a large number of propane stakeholders, including propane retailers AmeriGas, Blossman Gas, Ferrellgas, and Heritage Propane in addition to the Alabama Propane Gas Association and propane vehicle manufacturer Roush CleanTech. They also promote propane vehicles on their website by listing applicable vehicle purchase incentives.
  • Greater Indiana Clean Cities Coalition managed a Recovery Act grant that has put more than 1,300 propane vehicles on the road in Indiana to date. The coalition also helped facilitate the construction of 120 alternative fueling stations in partnership with eight other project partners, and has secured more than $22 million in federal and state grants since 2002 for coalition member projects.
  • Clean Fuels Ohio helps organize the state’s Energy Independence Day event and actively promotes the use of alternative fuel vehicles. They’re also working on a $16 million project that would provide funding for conversions and infrastructure.
  • Dallas-Fort Worth Clean Cities is a major participant in organizing the Texas Alt Car Expo and helps fleets identify and obtain Texas grant funding for conversions. The group also works with the Texas Department of Transportation, Dallas County Schools, the City of Fort Worth, and other fleet managers on new vehicle purchases and training.
  • Virginia Clean Cities manages a Recovery Act grant to convert more than 1,200 vehicles to propane autogas. The coalition created a propane subcommittee and hosts frequent webinars and events promoting propane autogas.

DISH Converts to Propane Fleet

DISH has deployed 47 customer service vans fueled by propane autogas in the Los Angeles (LA), California area. DISH unveiled 47 of its 200 propane autogas vehicle fleet during an event, “Driving Cleaner Solutions for Our Customers and Communities.” The ROUSH CleanTech Ford E-250 cargo vans will support residential and commercial customer service through the company’s Hawthorne and South El Monte locations.

logosmisc“DISH is proud to begin deploying a vehicle fleet in the LA area that emits fewer greenhouse gases and uses a domestically sourced fuel,” said Erik Carlson, executive vice president of service and installation at DISH. “This is just part of our larger propane autogas fleet rollout and we look forward to rolling out more across the country.”

According to DISH, there were four factors that helped them make their decisions to move to propane autogas: cost savings, national availability of a domestically sourced fuel, on-site fueling benefits and original equipment manufacturer choices that meet service requirements. As part of their move to propane, the company is also installing an onsite fueling station.

“Industry leaders such as DISH are recognizing the value that propane autogas brings to their operation,” added Todd Mouw, vice president of sales and marketing for ROUSH CleanTech. “The ability to reduce fuel costs in excess of 30 percent, significantly reduce harmful emissions and utilize an American-made energy source produces a positive ROI for all involved: shareholders, employees and the communities that DISH services.”

DISH serves 14 million customers. Currently, propane autogas is the only alternative fuel being implemented in DISH’s fleet.

Farmers Offered Incentive to Use Propane

perc-farmFarmers are being offered an incentive to use clean-burning propane in their operations. During the recent Commodity Classic in San Antonio, Tx., Mark Leitman, director of business development and marketing for the Propane Education and Research Council (PERC), talked to Tom Steever with Brownfield Ag News and told him that his council is funded by a 4/10-of-a-cent checkoff that helps research, safety and training programs, and includes a commitment to ag-based operations in the Propane Farm Incentive Program.

“We’re constantly looking for new technologies to invest in, trying to find a new application for propane in agriculture or make a grain dryer, for example, and make it better,” he said, adding that new propane engines are much more efficient than the older models, boosting output by 25 percent or more, as demonstrated from their non-scientific findings from last year’s farm incentive program that had farmers reporting a 36 percent reduction in fuel use and 57 percent in cost savings. That’s why he’s optimistic they’ll get more farmers to sign up for this year’s incentive. “We’d love farmers to take advantage of our Farm Incentive program, where they could receive an incentive of up to $5,000.”

Mark admitted a perfect storm of issues – big crop drying years and a colder than usual winter, among other things – did cause a significant spike in prices for propane this year, but he believes some important lessons were learned that will help his members keep prices more stable in the future.

“We’re taking a look at the infrastructure and trying to figure out where our organization can invest in ways to improve things so we’re better prepared moving forward,” he said.

More information on the incentive program is available at Agpropane.com.

Listen to Mark’s interview with Brownfield Ag News here: Mark Leitman, PERC

2014 Commodity Classic Photos

Propane Summit to Start AltCarExpo Texas

PropaneSummit1Clean-burning propane will be the featured opening of the AltCarExpo Texas. Taking place March 27 in Irving, Tx., the Propane Engine Fuel Summit will be a daylong summit to feature Texas schools and businesses using the clean, economical alternative fuel.

Kicking off the AltCarExpo Texas, the propane summit has invited Texas municipalities, school districts and businesses to discuss the challenges and benefits of fueling with propane autogas, an environmentally friendly and cost effective engine fuel. Presentations from the City of Fort Worth, CleanFUEL USA, Dallas County Schools, Dallas-Fort Worth Clean Cities and Northwest Propane Gas Co., will cover topics such as refueling infrastructure, economic and environmental factors, propane industry equipment and more.

Curtis Donaldson, managing director and founder of Georgetown-based CleanFUEL USA, will discuss what’s to come during his presentation, “The Future of Propane Autogas.”

“As the leading alternative fuel in the United States, propane autogas has come a long way since it first appeared as an engine fuel in 1913. The possibilities for this fuel are just getting started,” Donaldson said. “This American-made resource is saving more than just cash at the pump. It’s driving job creation and energy security by keeping our fuel dollars within our own economy.”

Organizers say laws and incentives in Texas are friendly to propane.

Partners for the Propane Engine Fuel Summit include: U.S. Energy Department’s Dallas-Fort Worth Clean Cities, North Central Texas Council of Governments, AltCar Conference & Expo and TSN Communications.

Biodiesel, Propane Expect Big Growth in Trucks

greentrucksummitJust because they’re big rigs doesn’t mean they have to be big polluters. Truckers and trucking interests have gathered this week in Indianapolis for the annual NTEA Work Truck Show and the Green Truck Summit being held in conjunction with the event. This article from FleetOwner.com says biodiesel and propane were talked as having some big growth potential in the trucking world.

“The vision of the U.S. biodiesel industry is to see 5% of the petroleum diesel used replaced with biodiesel by 2015 and 10% by 2022,” advised Jennifer Weaver, OEM Outreach & education program specialist for the National Biodiesel Board.

“That 5% alone would equal 1.88 billion gallons of biodiesel,” she continued, noting that “2013 was a banner year for biodiesel and the momentum is with it going into 2014.

And looking out to 2040, Weaver said by then “diesel will account for 70% of the growth in demand for all transportation fuels.”

Meanwhile, Tucker Perkins, chief business development officer for the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC), sees propane autogas as “the little engine that could” as it is being adopted by more private and municipal fleets.

“Propane autogas is not a Class 8 fuel,” he hastened to add. “It’s primarily going into light-duty pickups and vans and is moving into the medium-duty market mostly in school buses but the future includes medium-duty trucks as well.”

Perkins added that propane can be stored at a low pressure as a liquid and infrastructure costs are pretty minimal for an operation.

UPS Expands Propane Commitment

Delivery giant UPS is expanding its commitment to propane. The company has announced plans to purchase 1,000 propane delivery trucks and will also install 50 fueling stations at UPS locations. The investment in propane vehicles and infrastructure is nearly $70 million.

The expanded propane fleet will replace gasoline and diesel fueled vehicles in many rural areas in Louisiana and Oklahoma. The company says trucks along these rural routes can travel up to 200 miles on a tank of propane. The trucks will beginning hitting the roads my mid-year. UPS is considering adding propane trucks to other states.

Propane_PERC_UPS_049_preview“The UPS alternative fuel strategy is to invest in the most environmentally friendly and economical energy sources,” said David Abney, UPS chief operating officer. “Propane meets those criteria as a clean-burning fuel that lowers operating costs and is readily accessible, especially on rural routes in the United States. States that attract this type of investment with tax incentives and grants will factor into the UPS deployment strategy.”

UPS tested 20 propane-powered brown delivery trucks this past winter in Gainesville, Georgia, and expanded its order with Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. UPS uses a “rolling laboratory” approach to test different fuel sources and technologies according to their route characteristics. The new propane fleet is expected to travel more than 25 million miles and to displace approximately 3.5 million gallons of conventional gasoline and diesel per year.

“The opportunity to road test new propane vehicles and fueling equipment with one of the most sophisticated fleets in the country is a major milestone for the propane industry,” said Roy Willis, president and CEO of Propane Education & Research Council (PERC). UPS and PERC worked with equipment manufacturers to secure certifications with the EPA and California Air Resources Board. “This announcement is the culmination of many entities bringing together the best in propane technology to achieve the greatest economic and environmental results.”

UPS has one of the largest alternative fuel fleets in the country.

2014 Propane Engine Fuel Summit

The fourth annual 2014 Propane Engine Fuel Summit will take place on March 27, 2014 in Irving, Texas. The event will include panels of industry experts discussing topics such as how fueling with propane autogas can benefit your company’s bottom line, which propane autogas vehicle technologies are available now, which OEMs offer propane applications, and more.

2014 Propane Engine Fuel SummitJoe Thompson, president of ROUSH CleanTech, will be a keynote speaker. Thompson plans to share his years of experience in the automotive industry while addressing technological advances in the field of propane autogas fuel systems in the session, “This Isn’t Your Grandpa’s Propane Vehicle.”

“The leaders in the propane industry have a wealth of new knowledge to share about our rapidly advancing industry,” Thompson said. “This domestic resource supports job creation, economic growth and energy security nationwide — all while providing both economical and environmental advantages.”

The agenda will include speakers ranging from fleet managers who have adopted propane autogas vehicles in their fleet, to executives from the Propane Education & Resource Council, CleanFUEL USA, the Industrial Truck Association and more.

According to the event hosts, TSN Communications, converting a corporate fleet to propane autogas can create a positive impact on the environment and sizeable savings for an organization. Propane fueling stations, both private and public, are attainable and accessible, and propane industry equipment, such as forklifts and lawn mowers, is now widely available.

The 2014 Propane Engine Fuel Summit can be attended in person or viewed live via the free online webcast on March 27. There is no charge for viewing the entire event online, courtesy of the North Central Texas Council of Governments. The summit kicks off the 5th Annual Texas Alternative Energy & Transportation Conference & Expo.

Cold Weather, Logistics Problems Squeeze Propane

As the Midwest is hit with yet another Arctic blast, experts at the Energy Information Administration (EIA) say the cold and logistics problems are making prices of propane spike. This story from the EIA says part of the problem includes no chance to recover inventories after this fall’s harvest.

In the Midwest, propane is used for both drying agricultural crops and heating homes and businesses. For corn to be stored, it first needs to be dried, using large-scale heaters that often use propane for fuel. A late-2013 corn harvest, along with cold, wet weather, resulted in strong demand for propane at distribution terminals in the Upper Midwest. For the week ending November 1, 2013, Midwest propane inventories dropped more than 2 million barrels, the largest single-week stock draw in any November since 1993. This demand prompted a strong upward price response, and propane at Conway moved to a 3-cent-per-gallon (gal) premium over Mont Belvieu during the first week of November, the first such premium in almost three years.
eiapropane1
After the harvest, logistical problems prevented the region from fully replenishing inventories before the onset of winter. The Upper Midwest is supplied with propane by pipelines (Mid-American and ONEOK) flowing north from Conway (home to 30% of the nation’s propane storage), the Cochin Pipeline coming south from Canada, and from rail deliveries. The Cochin Pipeline, which delivers ethane and propane from Canada to the Upper Midwest, was out of service for maintenance from late November to December 20 and unavailable to deliver supplies. Rail transportation disruptions, both due to weather and other factors, curtailed deliveries from Mont Belvieu and Conway, as well as from Canada.

thuneThe pinch that Midwesterners, especially farmers, are feeling prompted Republican Senator John Thune of South Dakota, the Ranking Member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, to send a letter to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) asking for a lift on limits for drivers transporting propane in the Western region.

“Regional supply disruptions, high demand from a wet corn harvest, and the extreme cold temperatures this winter have strained propane and home heating oil supplies throughout the region,” said Thune. “The brutally cold temperatures in South Dakota, and across the region, this winter are a challenge for families and businesses, and a tight propane market only increases the dangerous conditions residents are facing. I will continue working with all relevant federal agencies to address this ongoing situation.”

FMCSA made similar declarations for propane distribution centers in the Southern, Eastern, and Midwestern areas the administration controls.

CleanFUEL USA Secures UL Autogas Dispenser Listing

Underwriters Laboratories (UL) has approved the Gilbarco Encore S liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) retail fuel dispenser used to dispense propane autogas. The dispenser also holds National Conference on Weights and Measures (NCWM) approval.

gI_81713_CleanFUEL USA Retail Autogas Dispenser Jan 2014CleanFUEL USA receives Encore 700 S and Encore S cabinets and electronics directly from Gilbarco, and completes the autogas dispenser with UL-listed components. The finished product results in an autogas dispenser, typically installed at retail settings with public access and controlled clientele, and features full retail capabilities for Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance. The dispenser is also available as a single or dual-sided unit.

CleanFuel cites propane auto gs as the leading alternative fuel in the U.S. and says it costs an average of 30 to 40 percent less than gasoline and up to 50 percent less than diesel.

“As we continue to install autogas refueling stations throughout the world, we must
take steps to validate our technology performance and safety,” said Curtis Donaldson,
founder and managing partner of CleanFUEL USA. “Partnering with Gilbarco and adding
a UL-listed dispenser to our product lineup signifies our commitment to exceeding
customer expectations in alternative fuel dispensing, and highlights our continued
leadership in the autogas industry.”

9 Propane Conversion Centers Join Alliance AutoGas

Nine new propane conversion centers have joined the Alliance AutoGas, a U.S. distributor of PRINS autogas technologies. New members include:

  • Benna Ford, Superior, Wisconsin
  • R. Anthony Enterprises, Marion, Ohio
  • MRT Manufacturing, Forest Hills, Virgina
  • NAEU North American Upfitters, Hooksett, New Hampshire
  • Northside Auto & Truck Service Watertown, Wisconsin
  • Clean Car Conversions, Indianapolis, Indiana
  • NTC Delta Transportation, Greenville, Mississippi
  • Gary Sapp Automotive, Pensacola, Florida
  • Sherwood Ford of Salisbury, Salisbury, Maryland

Alliance AutoGas Services and NetworkAlliance AutoGas coordinates propane autogas vehicle conversions, installs refueling infrastructure and provides ongoing vehicle maintenance support and training, through a network of more than 90 member companies and conversion centers throughout North America.

“It is of the highest importance that Alliance AutoGas provides a quality support network and keep the vehicles running on the road,” said Stuart Weidie, president of Alliance AutoGas.

Brendan Dunican, sales representative of North American Equipment Upfitters, Inc., added, “The Alliance AutoGas Group is important because it brings together businesses that have common goals and interests in the green initiative (that would normally have no interaction). We (NAEU) working as a conversion center are diversifying our business while maintaining a sense of environmental responsibility. Cleaner gas makes for a cleaner world and future.”

And Northside Auto and Truck Service’s John Mason, president, said they joined because, “Our fleet managers tell us that domestically produced, clean propane that is easier on their pocketbooks are important to them. We are pleased to be a part of the Alliance AutoGas network, enabling our fleets to meet their expectations,”

Alt Fuel Finder? Yep, There’s an App for That

appFinding the right place to fill up on alternative fuels might be as close as your iPhone. The Energy Department’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) developed a new, free mobile application for DOE’s Clean Cities program that helps users find a place to top off their tanks, whether it’s electricity, natural gas, biodiesel, e85 Ethanol, propane or hydrogen.

The Alternative Fueling Station Locator App, now available through Apple’s App Store, allows iPhone users to select an alternative fuel and find the 20 closest stations within a 30-mile radius. Users can view the locations on a map or as a list containing station addresses, phone numbers and hours of operation.

“If you drive an electric vehicle, for example, you can now use your iPhone to easily identify, contact and navigate to the charging station that is most convenient to you,” NREL Project Manager Trish Cozart said. “Generally, people don’t search for a station while they are sitting at a computer; they need this information while they are out and about, which makes a mobile application the ideal means to deliver it.”

“The number of alternative fuel vehicles on the road has been increasing steadily over the last two decades,” Cozart said. “Drivers and fleets have an unprecedented array of options to cut or eliminate petroleum use, and this new app serves as one more tool to make that easier.”

The app draws information from Clean Cities’ Alternative Fuels Data Center (AFDC), which contains a database of information for more than 15,000 alternative fueling stations throughout the country.

Go Riteway Delivers Propane Buses

GO Riteway has purchased 10 new Blue Bird Propane-Powered Vision school buses and 10 Micro Bird buses for Oak Creek-Franklin Joint School District. The company, which transports 5,500 Oak Creek students each day, said they now offer an environmentally friendly bus ride that lowers fuel costs for the community.

GO Riteway1“Congratulations to the citizens of Oak Creek, who will benefit from cleaner air and lower fuel costs with this safe and reliable alternative fuel in their school buses,” said Ron Bast, president of GO Riteway, during an open house at their Oak Creek facility. “Over their lifetime, these school buses will release 1.6 million fewer pounds of carbon dioxide emissions in your community.”

The open house attracted many local officials, including Dr. Sara Burmeister, Oak Creek’s school superintendent, and Steven Kurkowski, alderman for Oak Creek. A fueling demonstration allowed participants to learn firsthand the ease and quick speed of refueling a school bus with propane autogas.

“School districts around the nation are eager for cleaner, lower emissions solutions that also work with their budgets. The Blue Bird Propane-Powered Vision and Micro Bird meet these needs, with lower fuel and maintenance costs, decreased noise, and environmental benefits,” said Phil Horlock, president and CEO of Blue Bird Corporation. “Blue Bird’s propane-powered buses are a smart choice for any contractor or school district.”

The 78-passenger Blue Bird Propane-Powered Visions and 30-passenger Micro Bird buses meet all applicable School Bus Federal Motor Vehicle Safety standards, and Environmental Protection Agency and California Air Resources Board certifications, and uses the latest advancements in alternative fuel technology, including the ROUSH CleanTech liquid propane autogas fuel system and the Ford 6.8-liter engine.