Propane Education & Research Council Responds to Changing U.S. Economy and Propane Market Conditions

Council approves programs to help develop, commercialize, and market propane technology to increase propane sales

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Washington, DC (April 4, 2008) — In response to the downturn in the U.S. economy and higher propane prices, the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) approved projects at its meeting on March 28 in Atlanta, GA, to help grow off-season sales through new propane technology and to more strategically market propane to consumers and builders.

“We all are feeling the impact of this economy right now,” said PERC President and CEO Roy Willis. “But we can build upon propane’s inherent strengths to keep the industry strong and growing.  Propane is a clean and efficient source of energy, and we have products entering the marketplace that have the potential to significantly increase sales.”

The Council approved projects to support the growth of the propane engine fuel market, including a marketing development program designed to educate potential customers on the benefits of on- and off-road propane-powered vehicles. Another program will expand marketing efforts for the new propane-powered Blue Bird Vision school bus, putting school districts behind the wheel for a test drive. As a cleaner alternative to its diesel counterpart, the new bus is currently rolling off production lines for school districts to start using this fall.

 The Council also approved projects to commercialize new propane technologies, including the NovelAire desiccant dehumidifier, which improves air quality in homes and businesses during the most humid months of the year. In addition, PERC will continue its research and demonstration programs for propane steam and heat applications that effectively control weeds and pests on the farm.

The Council also supported outreach to those who are an integral part of the energy decision-making process – builders. Over the next year, the propane industry will be represented at various trade shows, including the International Builders’ Show, to educate builders, contractors, architects, and others on the benefits of building with propane. As builders face an increasingly difficult housing market, they are looking for ways to differentiate themselves and are eager to learn more about energy-efficient propane applications, as well as the fuel’s environmental advantages.

 In other Council business:

  • The Council approved a project to develop web-based interactive consumer safety education messages. These materials can be used by marketers or others in the industry who want to educate their customers in new and effective ways with safety messages.
  • The Council also voted to realign the curriculum for the Certified Employee Training Program (CETP) Vapor Distribution courses Appliance Start-up & Installation and Residential & Small.
  • The Council approved the 2007 audited financial statements, which show that PERC’s financial condition is strong.
  • The Council voted to adopt revisions to its Policies, Rules, and Procedures, and Bylaws. The revised Policies, Rules, and Procedures will be distributed for public comment before they are officially adopted at the Council’s July meeting.

The Council approved funding for the following grants:
DOCKET 12579 – Electronic Ignition Control System for Propane Orchard Heaters, $32,000
DOCKET 12580 – Reducing Blacklegged Tick Populations with Propane Torches in Controlling Invasive Barberry, $30,000
DOCKET 12581 – Batchen Stinger Reliability and Water Trials, $16,500
DOCKET 12582 – Steam as Methyl Bromide Alternative in Florida and California, $145,200

Consumer Education
DOCKET 12562 – 2008 Builder Tradeshows and Outreach, $1,506,000
DOCKET 12563 – 2008 Manufactured Housing Initiative, $303,000
DOCKET 12564 – and, $109,660
DOCKET 12565 – 2008 Consumer Education Measurement and Evaluation, $286,500

Engine Fuel
DOCKET 12567 – Engine Fuel Advisory Committee (EFAC) Professional Services, $200,000
DOCKET 12464 – Blue Bird Propane Vision Demonstration Program, $120,000
DOCKET 12568 – 2008-2009 Engine Fuel Marketing Program, $937,500
DOCKET 12584 – Regional Market Development Representatives, $175,000

Research and Development
DOCKET 12570 – Distributed Generation Project Development and Implementation 2008, $204,460
DOCKET 12569 – Validation & Commercialization of NovelAire’s Desiccant Dehumidifier (ComfortDry 400), $617,113

Safety & Training
DOCKET 12548 – Consumer Safety Education E-Learning Module Program, $113,100
DOCKET 12578 – Curriculum Alignment for CETP Courses; Appliance Start-up & Installation and Residential & Small, $684,973

State Rebates
The staff approved 84 rebates from 21 states based on the replicated rebate process. The total amount approved was $2,693,181.
Eight states requested rebates under the Consumer Education Partnership with States Program totaling $402,072.

The Council will next meet on July 17-18 in Washington, D.C.