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PERC Promotes Propane School Buses

January 25, 2013 in Propane by Rich Piellisch  |  No Comments

‘Propane Autogas: A Smart Investment for Cities and States’

The Propane Education and Research Council is talking up propane autogas as a way for cash-strapped municipalities and school districts to pare their operating costs.

“Propane-autogas-fueled vehicles are emerging as a cost effective and environmentally friendly investment for municipalities,” PERC says. “Aiding this investment is new legislation, authorized in recent ‘fiscal cliff’ negotiations, that extends alternative fuel tax credits through 2013 and retroactively for 2012. As a result, school districts and government agencies can expect even more savings – 50 cents per gallon in tax credits – for using alternative fuels such as propane autogas.

“Even without tax credits,” says the association, “states and municipalities switching to propane autogas report significantly lower emissions, reduced fuel and maintenance costs, and a lower lifecyle cost-of-ownership compared with conventional fuels. Propane-autogas-fueled fleets are cutting costs and helping tight budgets go further.”

PERC circulated the following roundup on Friday:

  • California: The largest school district in California, Los Angeles Unified (LAUSD), added 90 Blue Bird propane-autogas-fueled buses in 2009. By adding the buses, LAUSD was able to meet California’s new air quality requirements and reduce emissions up to 80% compared with diesel.
  • Reinstated federal tax credit means that the fuel costs even less.

    Texas: Dallas County Schools, one of the biggest districts in Dallas, Texas, has the largest propane-autogas-fueled school bus fleet in the state. The district transports 11 million students annually, travels more than 20 million miles each year, and saves $400,000 on fuel costs per year due to propane autogas. Additionally, the Dallas Parks and Recreation department purchased eight Ferris propane-fueled mowers. With its on-site propane refueling infrastructure employees save almost two hours of travel to and from the gas station each day.

  • Oregon: In Portland, approximately 80% of all buses in the Portland Public Schools (PPS) district are fueled by propane autogas. The PPS has been using propane-autogas-fueled buses for almost 30 years, reducing the district’s emissions by 25%. Propane autogas has extended their bus’ engine life by 30,000 miles, and saved the district nearly 50% in fuel costs compared with gasoline.
  • Wisconsin: Experiencing political infighting over increasing operating costs, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department converted their fleet to propane autogas in 1984. The 21-vehicle fleet gets about 13.5 to 14 miles per gallon and has saved the department on average $40,000 per year in fuel costs.
  • Nebraska: Nebraska will soon become home to the largest propane-autogas-fueled bus fleet in the country. Student Transportation of America will provide Omaha Public Schools and Millard Public Schools with approximately 530 vehicles, including more than 400 new propane-autogas-fueled school buses. The Omaha and Millard school districts based their decision on the propane-fueled buses’ use of domestic energy sources, lower carbon dioxide emissions (by 2.3 million pounds per year), and fuel and maintenance cost savings.
  • West Virginia: Last October, the West Virginia Department of Education announced the addition of propane autogas as an approved alternative fuel option for school bus fleets. Currently, all West Virginia school buses are diesel-powered due to state regulations, but propane-autogas-fueled buses could be on the road by fall 2014. The Department of Education buys nearly 200 new buses every year. Propane autogas is expected to save upwards of $30,000 per bus over the course of its life.

Moving Forward

In 2013, PERC predicts, the portfolio of propane autogas vehicles will continue to grow. Thomas Built will launch its first propane-autogas-fueled Type C school bus in March, joining the company’s propane-autogas-fueled Minotour Type A. Roush CleanTech will add to its line of propane-autogas-fueled Ford trucks and vans, with the new F-450, F-550 and F-650. The company also partners with Blue Bird to produce the Type C Vision bus and Type A Micro Bird bus.

“As municipalities and states continue to find ways to operate more efficiently, propane-autogas-fueled vehicles will be an important way to modernize fleets while also saving money in the long term,” PERC said.

“The experiences of municipalities and states who have invested in propane autogas are proving the validity of this cost-effective and clean-burning fuel.”

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Source: Propane Education & Research Council

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