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Kate Caskin, PERC senior vice president

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Propane Education & Research Council Reviews Safety Mission, Strengthens Ad Campaign, Hears Propane Market Data Report, Funds Technology, Safety, and Fuel Quality Initiatives 

Washington, D.C. (April 9, 2004) — The Propane Education & Research Council’s board (councilors) met on April 1-2 in Atlanta, GA and approved funding for several initiatives to support ongoing work in research and development, consumer education, safety and training and the agriculture market.    

The Council welcomed new members Patrick Chesterman (Ferrellgas, Liberty, MO), Charles Revere (Revere Gas & Appliance, Hartfield, VA), Jerry Waples (Enterprise Products, Houston,TX), David Wade (BP, Oneville, OH), and Ray Scholes (Marathon Ashland Petroleum, Findlay, OH).  The Council also appointed Cliff Slisz (Ferrellgas, Liberty, MO) to serve as chairman of the Safety and Training Advisory Committee (STAC).  

The Council meeting preceded the National Propane Gas Association’s 2004 Southeastern Convention and International Exposition, which featured the propane industry’s popular “Energy Guys” advertising campaign and the launch of a PROPANE Exceptional Energy ® brand visibility program.  PERC also discussed the spring roll-out of the revised Certified Employee Training Program and exhibited two propane-powered buses.

Much of the meeting was dedicated to a thorough review of the safety and training mission. “This is the first meeting in a year-long plan to examine each of PERC’s missions,” said PERC Chairman David Lugar (AmeriGas, Houston, TX).  PERC Vice President Stuart Flatow and members of the Safety and Training Advisory Committee (STAC), including outgoing STAC Chairman Joe Rose (Propane Plus, Rehoboth, MA), gave detailed progress reports covering the implementation of new employee training, emergency responder training, regulatory compliance, consumer safety education, and workplace and marketplace safety studies. 

“PERC has enabled the propane industry to undertake a comprehensive education and training program with the goal of promoting high public confidence in the safety and value of propane,” said Rose.  “We are well on our way to making this happen, thanks in large part to the industry’s commitment and investment in high quality safety programs such as Propane Emergencies, the new Certified Employee Training Program, and the Regulatory Compliance program.” 

Lugar saluted Rose’s leadership and the STAC members following their presentation. “In my view, your volunteer efforts are maximizing the value of assessment dollars through programs and projects that help protect both the people who deliver and use propane,” he said.  “This value will grow as more and more of the safety and training products become familiar to and are used by the industry’s business leaders and employees.”

PERC also approved a plan to enhance the 2004 national advertising campaign to reach additional consumers about the benefits of propane by redirecting funds once earmarked for the initiated local market component of the campaign—over and above the national advertising.   “At this stage of the campaign it is more effective and efficient to use national advertising opportunities, as we explore ways to enhance local advertising through the Consumer Education Partnership with States Program (Partnership Program),” said Daryl McClendon, chairman, Consumer Education Advisory Committee, (Blue Rhino Corporation, Hinsdale, IL). 

The 2004 national campaign includes TV, print, and online advertising.  The Council’s decision added NASCAR programming and the Country Music Awards to the national media buy and will promote safe grilling with a new network radio message in the two weeks leading up to Memorial Day.  In addition, the Council expanded the Partnership Program to give states matching funds for joint advertising in local manufactured housing markets.

PERC President Roy Willis told the Council that since the “Energy Guys” campaign launched on February 9, the industry has witnessed a significant increase in the number of visitors to the usepropane.com website.  “More than 30,000 visitors came to the website in March and the number of consumers asking for propane service through the “Find a Propane Retailer” program is averaging 18 per day,” Willis said.

The councilors also received a report from Energy and Environmental Analysis, Inc. (EEA) and WirthlinWorldwide, the team that is developing a multi-faceted, multi-year project to track market data—including propane gallons sold in each market sector—that will help the industry measure the effectiveness of PERC-funded programs.  EEA’s preliminary data for the residential market shows the number of propane households in rural communities growing faster than the overall number of new homes.  At the same time, a five-year historical review found that the number of propane vehicles on the road is considerably less than previously shown in government reports.  

In an effort to expand markets, the Council funded research and development projects that will advance the involvement of propane in combined heat and power applications and distributed generation.  In addition, a project was funded to begin examining the steps necessary to allow indoor use of propane.

The Council also funded three fuel quality projects:  (1) A survey project that will provide verifiable data on sulfur species in marketplace product, composition of product currently used, and product composition requirements for emerging markets; (2) The development of methods of addressing water in propane, identify sources of solid contaminants, and recommend practices of managing water and solid contaminants; and (3) The development of a manual for everyone handling product in the distribution chain on how to maintain good product quality. These projects are part of a comprehensive Council fuel quality initiative that is examining the entire distribution chain to help marketers evaluate and remediate contaminants found in propane, which is becoming more important as newer technologies enter the market.

The Council approved one agriculture funding request aimed at developing an advanced technology thermal destruction system for the animal industry.  The system will be capable of emergency deployment for animal disposal needs that are often necessary when disease outbreaks occur.  This project will position propane as the fuel of choice within the livestock industry when dealing with everyday and emergency needs for environmentally sound disposal of these materials.  The intent of this project is to develop the science that will lead to production scale thermal destruction systems, specific to various species of livestock that can be used throughout the year to dispose of billions of pounds of normal animal mortalities and related wastes

The Council approved funding for the following grants.

Research and Development
Docket 11203— Feasibility Study and System Specification of a Gas-Fired Residential CHP Product, Gas Technology Institute, $106,975
Docket 11213—Distributed Generation (DG) Project—Development & Demonstration Coordination, Consulting Solutions, $98,800
Docket 11323—Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emission Factors for MOBILE6.3.MOVES Model, Anderson Associates, $6,800
Docket 11328—Code Approval of Propane Cylinder Indoor Use, Battelle Columbus Operations, $199,000
Docket 11352—Guideline for LP Gas Good Practices, Propane Education & Research Council, $79,791
ocket 11353—Water & Solid Contaminant Control in LP Gas, Propane Education & Research Council, $135,000|
Docket 11354—LP Gas Surveys, Propane Education & Research Council, $135,000


Docket 11321—Development and Evaluation of a Propane-Fueled, Production-Scale, On-Site Thermal Destruction System, Illinois State University, $470,000


Safety and Training
Docket 11326—Dispensing Propane Safely, Propane Education & Research Council, $96,250
Docket 11341—Safety & Training Advisory Committee Support, Propane Education & Research Council, $138,000  
Docket 11351—CETP Launch/Outreach Part II, Propane Education & Research Council, $127,550
Docket 11327—Remember Charlie Safety Education Speaker and Videos, $8,050


Consumer Education 
Docket 11185—Propane Industry and Multi-Audience Communications.  $50,000 added to pre-approved docket to support online survey mechanism.  


Industry Programs
Docket 11216—2003 NGL Survey.  $7,500 added to pre-approved docket to provide American Petroleum Institute with consulting support from Petral Worldwide.


State Rebates

The Council approved 33 state rebates (from 15 states) totaling $1.3 million.  Of that amount, nearly $190,000 in Consumer Education Partnership with States Program funds (matching dollars) were granted to several states.  

The Council will meet next on June 10-11 in Naples, FL.