#Propane Power on a Roll

growmark-propane-beckyPropane power is on a roll these days, going far beyond it’s traditional uses of home heating and grain drying, moving into areas such as fleet vehicles and school buses. To learn more about propane’s market expansion, Cindy Zimmerman spoke with Becky Hornblower, GROWMARK’s propane marketing and technical services manager. GROWMARK is one of the country’s largest retailers of propane.

According to Hornblower, GROWMARK markets propane in 16 states and operates more than 300 company-owned transports, which she said really helps with their supply network. This resulted in the sale of more than 200 million gallons of propane sold in fiscal year 2015, and this year looks even stronger.

One major area of growth for the company is the autogas market and Hornblower noted that their members have been really proactive in growing this market. She explained autogas is the term used when propane is used in a motor-fueled vehicle such as a pickup truck, car, bus, fleet delivery vehicle and the like.

Their network is growing and they have specific accounts and networks in Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois for school systems that are operating their school buses using propane autogas. They also have municipality accounts, transit and commercial lawn company accounts to name a few.

“This market presents not only a strong opportunity for our position in the industry, especially as you look at growth year round versus cyclical cycles with residential and ag demand,” said Hornblower. She added that end users are really seeing the benefits of the cleaner burning aspects of propane. For example propane is easier on the engines saving maintenance costs and prolonging engine life. She said that there are tax credits and incentives for propane conversion and use and propane is safer than gasoline.

What about savings in action? She said one school district reported savings of more than $300,000 over 10 years with their propane autogas bus fleet.

Learn more about propane in this week’s ZimmCast: Interview with Becky Hornblower, GROWMARK

Propane Autogas Saves Money

Propane-Autogas-event-at-Prairieland-FS1Local municipalities, school districts and fleets are all saving money thanks to propane autogas. This news release from GROWMARK says Prairieland FS, Inc. based in Jacksonville, Illinois, taught local entities about the benefits of the fuel at an educational summit.

City of Springfield Director William McCarty, Office of Budget and Management and Mike Palazzolo, Fleet Manager shared their experience in converting 64 vehicles to propane autogas. According to McCarty the city has already realized a fuel savings of $100,000 over and above savings in maintenance and repairs. Prairieland FS supplies the city with propane and assisted with propane infrastructure – including design and installation of a new propane filling station.

Josh Olsen, assistant superintendent with Olympia Schools in McLean and Tazewell counties, shared his experience with propane powered school buses. Total cost of ownership, including reduced fuel expense and up to 50 percent reduced oil consumption, saves his school district money. The ability to start up faster than diesel vehicles in cold temperatures, cleaner exhaust, improved performance and quieter operation, make the propane powered buses popular with drivers, students and parents alike.

Industry representatives at the event included Central States Bus Sales, Icom North America, Dealers LP, Ray Murray, and the Illinois Propane Gas Association.

Tonya Crow, Energy Department manager, and the staff of Prairieland FS organized the event and showcased a number of propane vehicles and items at their office in Jacksonville. “We are pleased to bring this technology to local schools, municipalities and fleets knowing we can help them save money when budgets are tight,” explained Crow.

Propane Autogas Revs Up the FS System

fs-growmarkBusinesses and organizations are recognizing the benefits of switching from gasoline or diesel fuel to propane autogas.

The GROWMARK FS System is enjoying the benefits firsthand through the use of propane powered vehicles and supplying and servicing customers such as school districts and municipalities.

fs-propane-truckBecky Borkgren, GROWMARK’s Propane marketing and technical services manager, is a vocal advocate in her new propane powered pickup truck. “I love this truck. It is bi-fuel and is equipped to run on gasoline or propane,” said Borkgren. “We worked with Hendrix Industrial Gastrux located in Wauconda, IL to install an Icom North America liquid injection system. It’s all “plug and play,” meaning this system eliminates “splicing and dicing” of parts and minimizes the risk of errors.”

The industry refers to overall savings as “total cost of ownership” because fuel expense is only one component affecting the bottom line. Savings can be attributed to less fuel consumed, less maintenance, reduced oil consumption, less electricity to plug in diesel engines, and no diesel exhaust fluid.

Visit www.fspropane.com to learn more about the FS System and Propane Autogas.

GROWMARK FS Joins Propane Days at Capital

NPGAMembers of the GROWMARK and FS System were recent participants in the National Propane Gas Association’s (NPGA) 2015 Propane Days at the nation’s capital. This news release says the members were educated regarding affairs and legislation that affects the propane industry and how to be actively involved in its development.

“The Propane Days conference was a great opportunity to work with dedicated FS and GROWMARK experts as well as the Illinois Propane Gas Association. It was a privilege to work together and with our legislators toward the common goal of promoting propane as a clean, alternative fuel of choice,” explained Kevin Johnson, energy specialist with Heritage FS, Inc.

Attendees had the opportunity visit with their Congressional representatives to encourage the extension of key tax provisions, equalization of taxes on propane, and parity of propane relative to other auto fuels. The event also provided networking opportunities with other industry colleagues throughout the nation and a discussion with PERC staff to learn more about the national Propane Education and Research Council (PERC) efforts.

“I feel the Congressional visits will reward the industry for years to come. The visit to PERC was such an eye opening experience which yielded great information. I can’t wait to share my new found knowledge with my team back home,” said Chris Olson, LP and retail marketing manager with Illini FS.

GROWMARK Acquires MO Refined Fuels Terminal

growmarklogoIllinois-based cooperative GROWMARK, Inc. is acquiring the refined fuels terminal near St. Joseph, Missouri from Magellan Pipeline Company with an intent to offer ethanol blends in the future in addition to diesel.

Kevin Carroll, Vice President of GROWMARK’s Energy Division, says the acquisition will help them solidify the cooperative’s commitment to the energy business in northwestern Missouri and northeastern Kansas, expand capacity and facilitate continued growth. “We currently have a reliable supply of refined fuels. However, with the addition of the St. Joseph terminal we will be able to more easily grow with our customers in the region,” he said.

Carroll said Magellan will continue to deliver refined fuels into the St. Joseph terminal via its Midwest pipeline system.

GROWMARK provides energy-related products and services, agriculture-related products and services, and grain marketing in the Midwest and Ontario, Canada.

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.

FS Propane Autogas Demos in Illinois and Wisconsin

fs-propaneGROWMARK and local FS member companies in Illinois and Wisconsin are hosting five events this week to share information about Propane Autogas as an alternative to petroleum and compressed natural gas (CNG) fuels.

“There’s quite a few sectors, such as schools, municipalities, buses, and fleets, that are starting to convert their fleets to Propane Autogas,” explains GROWMARK propane marketing and business development manager Scott Long. He says while it’s been around for years, the cleaner-burning, economical features, including saving up to 40 percent above what petroleum-based products cost, are really making big impressions on the fleets. “The city of Springfield, Ill. is running bifuel (able to take both propane and regular gasoline), they converted 24 vehicles to propane this past year, and they’re saving about $82,000 per vehicle.”

The tour kicks off today, making stops today in Carbondale, Ill., in Springfield, Ill. and Bloomington, Ill. tomorrow (Tuesday), Wednesday in Madison, Wisc., and finishing up in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisc. on Thursday. In addition to industry representatives, the events will have propane powered buses, service trucks, and vehicles on display. Attendees will have an opportunity to participate in demonstrations of the vehicles. Local FS dealers have more information on where and when to be to see the demonstrations.

Scott goes on to say that with the environmental benefits of 12 percent fewer carbon dioxide emissions, a 20 percent drop in nitrogen oxide emissions, and 60 percent fewer carbon monoxide emissions than traditional petroleum-based fuels, using Propane Autogas makes sense for big cities and rural areas.

“The benefits, not just from the economic savings are there, but also from an environmental side, too.”

Listen to more of the interview with Scott here: Interview with Scott Long, GROWMARK

GROWMARK Terminal Gets Biodiesel Certification

BQ9000GROWMARK‘s Menard Terminal, near Petersburg, Ill., is being recognized for its quality biodiesel. The company received BQ-9000 certification by the National Biodiesel Accreditation Committee.

The National Biodiesel Accreditation Program, called BQ-9000, is a cooperative and voluntary program for the accreditation of producers and marketers of biodiesel fuel. The program’s criteria for certification combine the ASTM standard for biodiesel, ASTM D6751, with a quality systems program that includes storage, sampling, testing, blending, shipping, distribution, and fuel management practices.

The facility features include heated storage, insulated piping, filtration and a pulse blending system. Biodiesel offered at Menard is 100% soy-based and meets all of the requirements of the industry standard, ASTM D6751, and the more stringent GROWMARK Quality Assurance Program. Blends in 2%, 5%, 11% and 20% for both clear and dyed diesel fuel are available. Dieselex Gold and SURE-FLO IV are also available for blending at the rack.

GROWMARK bought the Menard Terminal facility five years ago. It has storage capacity of more than 10 million gallons for gasoline, diesel fuel, ethanol and biodiesel, with the ability to custom blend biodiesel.

AgFanatics Talk Ethanol & RINs

agfanaticsA podcast we’ve talked about on our sister website, AgWired.com is the AgFanaticsAgriVisor Account Manager Cory Winstead and AgriVisor Risk Management Specialist Nick Klump, who talk ag issues on a regular basis. No surprise that ethanol and Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) made it onto their radar, as it is a topic pretty important in ag circles.

In this episode of the AgFanatics podcast, the guys try to bring a little more knowledge to the the discussion of about of ethanol production and blending. Recently, they talked to Tim Abel, GROWMARKS Refined Fuels Supply and Trading Manager to clear up some of the issues on the topic.

Check ’em out!