Commercial Fleets Thrive on Low-Cost Propane Motor Fuel

Propane-powered fleets excel amid high gasoline and diesel prices; showcase propane’s environmental and performance benefits across industries


Washington, DC (May 23, 2005) – The propane industry recently announced the winners of the fifth annual PROPANE Exceptional Energy® Fleet Awards. The four fleets receiving awards for their exceptional use of propane-powered fleet applications are: Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, TX; Irvine Ranch Water District, CA; Alvin Independent School District, TX; and King Sooper grocery stores, CO.

This year’s award winners showcase a variety of commercial and public sector fleets in which fleet managers are using propane to reduce operating costs and realize the emissions benefits of propane.

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in Austin, TX is just one example. The propane-powered vehicles at the airport, including everything from parking shuttle buses to lawnmowers, consume as much as 24,500 gallons of propane a month. The City of Austin is able to take advantage of a per gallon propane price that is 85 cents less per gallon than gasoline. As a result, the airport can save as much as $21,000 in fuel costs every month depending on the price of gasoline.

"The commitment to reduce emissions and lessen the impact on the environment is strengthened at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport through the use of propane fuel vehicles," said City of Austin Aviation Department Executive Director Jim Smith. "Additionally, a propane fleet has been a cost saving investment in light of today's gas prices."

2005 Exceptional Energy® Fleet Award Winners:

  • Austin-Bergstrom International Airport has used propane vehicles since opening in May 1999. The City of Austin installed a propane vehicle fueling facility with two 18,000-gallon propane tanks at Austin-Bergstrom in April 2004 for airport and public fleet use. The fueling station reduced airport shuttle fleet expenses by about $27,000 annually by enabling fleets to refuel on-site instead of traveling to an off-site facility. Further, the facility created a greater opportunity for the entire City of Austin to receive volume discounts on the price of the fuel from propane vendors.
  •  Irvine Ranch Water District, CA, was recognized as an outstanding example of how local utility companies can create an economical, self-sufficient, and environmentally conscious fleet program. As one of the largest water districts in Southern California, Irvine Ranch operates two modern propane-refueling stations, and they are in the process of installing a 15,000-gallon propane tank and refueling station. Irvine Ranch is also actively involved in testing new propane engine technologies in cooperation with its fuel supplier. 
  • King Soopers, a grocery chain that operates several stores in the suburbs of Denver, CO, runs almost 30 percent of its fleet on propane, including 10 light duty, 72 medium duty and three heavy-duty vehicles. King Soopers recently installed a propane fuel station at its headquarters, and its drivers also use the 24-hour public propane fueling locations throughout Denver.
  • Alvin Independent School District, located 35 miles south of Houston, operates 86 percent of its school bus fleet on propane, using nearly 400,000 gallons of propane fuel annually. To demonstrate its commitment to using propane-powered buses, the school district installed an 18,000-gallon propane storage tank at its new state-of-the-art fueling facility.

"This year’s award winners demonstrate the versatility, viability and cost-savings of propane-powered fleets across the country,” said Brian Feehan, managing director of engine fuel programs for the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC). “Propane has enabled fleets in vastly different industries to reduce fuel costs – as compared to gasoline and diesel fuel – while offering reliable, environmentally sound operations.” 

The PROPANE Exceptional Energy® Fleet Awards recognize the achievements of vehicle fleet leaders who use propane to fuel their vehicle fleets and promote public awareness of propane as a cost-effective, safe and clean-burning motor fuel. The awards were presented May 2 at the Eleventh National Clean Cities Conference & Expo in Palm Springs, CA.

The Portland Public School District won a PROPANE Exceptional Energy® Fleet Award in 2003 for its operation of 288 propane-fueled school buses. The fleet continues to realize the financial benefits of propane compared to gasoline or diesel. Gasoline prices in Portland are well over $2 a gallon, but Bryan Winchester, director of student transportation at Portland Public Schools, pays just over $1 a gallon for propane. “I love propane,” Winchester said. “It costs less and our buses get nearly the same gas mileage as diesel buses.”

More than 200,000 propane-powered vehicles are in use today in the United States, and more than 9 million are in use worldwide. Clean burning and efficient propane is also widely used in forklift and agriculture applications, as well as in other special-duty vehicles and engines.

Tests conducted by the EPA demonstrate that propane vehicles can produce 30 percent to 90 percent less carbon monoxide than gasoline engines and about 50 percent fewer toxics and other smog-producing emissions. Propane is listed as an approved alternative fuel in the 1990 Clean Air Act and the Energy Policy Act of 1992.

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