Propane Council Donates $30K for Propane Buses

With a growing movement to transport children in buses fueled by propane, the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) has begun a campaign to teach communities about the benefits of propane-powered transportation that include improved health. Today more than 7,000 buses across the U.S. are currently using the fuel and in an effort to see this number continue to rise, PERC is partnering with journalist and former teacher Jenna Bush Hager and the nonprofit Adopt a Classroom to donate more than $30,000 to teachers at schools adopting propane buses.

Jenna Bush Hager rides with students to Lilla G. Frederick Pilot Middle School in celebration of their adoption of cleaner, safer propane school buses. (Photo: Propane Education & Research Council)

Jenna Bush Hager rides with students to Lilla G. Frederick Pilot Middle School in celebration of their adoption of cleaner, safer propane school buses. (Photo: Propane Education & Research Council)

“It’s clear when you talk to school administrators and transportation departments that they are saving more than just dollars and cents by going with propane buses,” said Hager. “The switch is improving their school as a whole and giving them the opportunity to invest in more teachers or school programs.”

PERC’s donation will assist teachers at seven schools this fall, including Lilla G. Frederick Pilot Middle School in Massachusetts; Kyrene Monte Vista in Arizona; Broward Education Foundation in Florida; Wilkes Elementary in Oregon; Five Star Education Foundation in Colorado; St. Francis Elementary in Minnesota; and Friendswood Jr. High in Texas.

Hager surprised teachers at the Lilla G. Frederick Pilot Middle School in Boston with the news they would receive a total of $10,000 from PERC to purchase supplies for their classroom. Boston Public Schools is the first district in the city to switch from diesel to propane buses. Today, the transition from diesel to propane buses has been reported in 20 of the top 25 designated market areas, and four of the 10 largest school districts in the country are using them.

“As a former teacher and parent, I know that the school day begins and ends on the bus,” added Hager. “When we give our kids a safer, healthier start to the day, it can improve their entire experience in the classroom and at home, too.”

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.

As Temps Cool, Propane Supplies Hit Record

Just in time for winter heating and agriculture crop drying seasons, the supplies of propane hit record levels in the U.S. This U.S. Energy Information Administration report says inventories of propane and propylene reached 97.7 million barrels as of September 11, the highest level in the 22 years.
During the first six months of 2015, production of propane at natural gas plants was 31.3 million barrels, or 172,000 barrels per day (b/d), higher than during the first half of 2014. Exports increased by 33.3 million barrels (182,000 b/d) over the same period.

In the United States, propane is mainly used for space heating and as a feedstock for petrochemical plants, as well as for drying agricultural crops. Relatively small amounts of propane are also used for fueling vehicles. Its heating and agricultural uses make propane consumption highly seasonal and weather dependent, rising in the fall and peaking in the winter. In addition to heating and agricultural use, propane is used by petrochemical plants to produce ethylene and propylene, key building blocks for the manufacturing of chemicals and plastics. Petrochemical propane consumption has little seasonality but can vary significantly based on plant operations.

Traditionally, propane and propylene stocks increase from the start of April to the end of September, and they are drawn down from October to March, when agricultural and heating demands increase. In 2015, inventories began increasing in mid-February, more than six weeks earlier than the historical average.

EIA expects propane and propylene inventories to begin the October heating season at record levels, reaching a high of 99.1 million barrels at the end of September.

ROUSH Offers Ford E-450 Extended Range

Flint MTA F-450ROUSH CleanTech is now offering a Ford E-450 extended range fuel tank fueled by propane autogas. The larger fuel tank, with 64 gallons of fuel, now holds 56 percent more fuel than the standard option. The truck will begin shipping in October.

“We listened to our paratransit customers who wanted the Ford E-450 chassis, yet also needed more autogas fuel capacity,” said Todd Mouw, vice president of sales and marketing for ROUSH CleanTech. “With this extended range fuel tank, we offer the longest driving range for this model — plus an extended warranty for those customers.”

Built on Ford’s 6.8-liter V10 engine, the Ford E-450 with extended range fuel system comes with an extended 5-year, 100,000-mile warranty exclusively for the transit industry.

ROUSH CleanTech Ford E-450s are California Air Resources Board and Environmental Protection Agency compliant and have completed Federal Transit Administration’s New Model Bus Testing Program (“Altoona Testing”). Altoona-tested vehicles can be purchased using a transit agency’s FTA funds.

Alliance AutoGas Gets ‘Protect & Save’ Certs

Alliance AutoGas has received approval from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for their bi-fuel police vehicles that can run using propane autogas or conventional gasoline. The certifications cover the following vehicles: Ford Taurus Interceptor 3.5L (2015, 2014, 2013), Ford Explorer Interceptor 3.5L & 3.7L (2016, 2015, 2014, 2013), Dodge Charger 3.6L (2015) and Dodge Charger 5.7 HEMI (2015, 2014, 2013). The company said of specific interest to U.S. Law Enforcement fleets are the certifications of the, Explorer Police Interceptor, the Taurus Police Interceptor, and the Charger Pursuit.

AllianceAutoGasThese platforms are being offered with Alliance’s exclusive plug and play technology. This technology allows for consistent OEM quality installs in a matter of hours. Certifications are secured by Blossman Services Inc. (BSI), the equipment distributor for Alliance AutoGas. BSI is the exclusive United States distributor and the Manufacturer of Record (MOR) for EPA and CARB certifications on behalf of Alliance AutoGas and its members.

Alliance AutoGas said they offer the only comprehensive conversion program in the United States and assist companies in determining if propane autogas is right for their fleet. From there they convert existing vehicles — without voiding any warranties. The state-of-the-art conversions are EPA-certified, to ensure safety and maximum efficiency, and performed for zero upfront cost. In addition, Alliance builds the fueling station wherever the fleet is based at no upfront cost and provides a guaranteed fuel supply going forward. Refueling infrastructure, said Alliance, is considerably cheaper than any other fuel source and scalable, growing with a fleet.

Broward Schools Finds Success with Propane

Broward County Public Schools (BCPS), located in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, has seen success since changing its bus fleet to run on propane autogas. Analysis has found that the Student Transportation and Fleet Services Department reduced its annual operating costs more than $600,000. BCPS began using 98 of the propane autogas fueled school buses, made by Blue Bird, in the 2014/15 school year.

“Providing safe and efficient transportation for our students is always our priority,” said Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert W. Runcie. “The fuel and maintenance savings from our buses using propane autogas has allowed us to reduce our expenses for transporting students to and from school.”

gI_85828_Broward County Schools Propane BusThe analysis found that the district paid an average of $1.32 per gallon for propane and $2.75 for diesel over the last year. In addition to fuel savings, annual maintenance costs for the alternatively fueled buses amounted to 80 percent less than for their diesel buses.

The sixth largest school system in the nation, BCPS operates 1,269 school buses, including the 98 fueled by propane autogas. Each bus travels an average of 16,500 miles per year, transporting approximately 75,000 students. BCPS expects to save more than $74,000 in operating costs over the 12-year lifecycle of each propane autogas bus, which equates to about 38 cents per mile savings.

“After researching the direction of school bus transportation, we decided propane was the best fit and the best use of taxpayer dollars,” said Patricia Snell, director of student transportation and fleet services for BCPS. “We’ve been thrilled with the savings, as well as the performance of the buses.”

BCPS budgeted for a six-month return on investment of the initial propane engine upcharge, but according to the analysis, recouped that cost in three months. The Blue Bird Propane Vision buses had an incremental cost of less than 3 percent more than their diesel counterparts. The school district has ordered 37 additional propane autogas buses for the 2015/16 school year.

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 to learn more about the FS System and Propane Autogas.

DeKalb County Adopts Propane Buses

DeKalb County Central United School District (Indiana) is adding three new school buses powered by propane autogas for the upcoming school year. The largest school district in the state, the Blue Bird Propane Vision buses are equipped with a ROUSH CleanTech propane autogas fuel system and were purchased from MacAllister Bus Sales.

DeKalb Central United Schools, DeKalb County’s largest school district, will replace 12-year-old diesel buses with new Blue Bird Propane Vision buses

DeKalb Central United Schools, DeKalb County’s largest school district, will replace 12-year-old diesel buses with new Blue Bird Propane Vision buses

“Encouraging intentional innovation is one of our key priority areas of our district’s strategic plan. In a time of diminishing resources, we strive to be as innovative and energy efficient as possible,” shared DeKalb Central Superintendent Dr. Sherry Grate. “After researching the data regarding the incorporation of propane autogas fueled school buses in to our fleet, a very deliberate decision was made to pursue this opportunity.”

Grate said cutting greenhouse gas emissions, a cleaner riding environment for students, and reduced maintenance costs for each unit, were reasons cited for the purchase of the propane autogas buses. Also a factor was that on average, autogas costs up to 50 percent less than diesel fuel and the buses will start up in temperatures as low as minus 40 degrees. Keeping children’s safety in mind, Grate noted the buses are quieter and have less of an impact on neighborhoods.

Trey Jenkins, vice president of alternative fuels for Blue Bird Corporation, added, “As the leader in propane, Blue Bird is committed to providing school districts with a reliable, innovative and proven technology that is favorable to a district’s bottom line. Like many districts, DeKalb Central United Schools did the research and realized that propane autogas is the best choice for reducing fuel and maintenance costs while providing cleaner air for the community. This is a great decision by DeKalb Central United Schools.”

Icom Adds New Propane Vehicles to Lineup

001-2016-ford-police-interceptor-utility-1Icom North America, based in New Hudson, Michigan, has added several new propane powered vehicles to its offering. Customers can now purchase 2013, 2014, 2015 & 2016 3.7 engine Ford Police Sport Utility, Police Sedan, Explorer, Taurus, Edge, Flex and Lincoln MKT, MKS and MKX. These fleet platforms are focused on police, government and livery vehicles and Icom said using propane reduces fuel costs and offers a more sustainable transportation option.

Ed Zoglman Icom V.P. Central Division, said, “Icom enjoys a large Police, Government Fleet and Livery market and Icom is the first to certify these key vehicle platforms for which we have a large order-bank.”

“I drive many thousands of miles each month in an Icom Liquid Injection System SUV and enjoy noticeable increased performance and miles per gallon as compared to propane vapor injection kits and performance exceeding gasoline,” noted David Griffin Icom Southeast autogas specialist. “Having been a Propane Fleet Manager and Technician for almost 20 years what most impressed me about the Icom System are the many benefits of Liquid Injection and how Plug and Play the Icom Systems are.”

Icom is anticipating additional EPA Certifications for additioanl fleet platforms powered by liquid injection propane systems.

Propane Holds Forum for School Transportation

propane-busAt this year’s STN Expo in Reno, Nevada, the Propane Education & Research Council is providing school transportation professionals with the information they need to build the business case for clean, American propane autogas.

“Propane autogas continues to gain traction as the leading alternative fuel in the school bus industry,” said Michael Taylor, PERC director of autogas business development. “Reinforced by the availability of propane autogas options from four major manufacturers, we’re finding that an increasing number of transportation directors have questions about adopting the fuel.”

Currently, Blue Bird, Collins, IC Bus, and Thomas Built each offer propane-autogas-powered school bus options. “We’re exhibiting at STN Expo this year to help school bus fleets and private contractors understand why propane autogas has passed the test for districts around the country: it’s clean, safe, and provides a lower total cost of ownership compared with diesel,” said Taylor.

The Expo is being held this week through July 19 at the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno. Expo attendees are invited to stop by the PERC booth to talk with propane industry experts, and get answers to their questions about the fuel. Show attendees will also be able to see propane autogas refueling dispensers and learn more about the growing number of propane-autogas-powered school bus options.