As we approach the 100th anniversary of propane's invention in 1912, marketers, manufacturers, suppliers, and researchers can all take pride in the roles we play in delivering the benefits of an abundant, clean-burning fuel that helps our nation get the energy it needs, protect the environment, and grow the economy.
In 2010, Americans from coast to coast continued to benefit directly from the work and achievements of both our industry and of PERC. Homeowners, farmers, fleet operators, emergency first responders, and propane marketers are among the beneficiaries of PERC's consumer and workforce safety and training materials and its research and development programs. In the years since PERC began operations in 1998 — and specifically since launching our first technology roadmap in 2000 — our investment of over $80 million in research and development has attracted nearly $120 million in co-funding that has resulted in a host of
products and technologies that give people new and innovative ways to use propane safely
At the same time, PERC research and development partnerships have created jobs. Hundreds of people in Michigan, Georgia, Texas, California, and other states are at work building clean trucks, vans, and school buses that reduce pollution and provide reliable, affordable transportation, based on fuel systems researched and developed primarily with Council funding. Likewise, workers at U.S. agricultural equipment manufacturers are building the latest generations of propane-fueled grain dryers and heat, steam, and flame systems for weed and pathogen control. Others are producing PERC-supported hybrid power systems introduced in 2010 that combine propane with solar energy for off-grid installations. Retailers nationwide are offering their customers both consumer and commercial-grade mowers and other lawn care equipment that reduce certain air pollutants by 60 percent, compared with gasoline models. And homebuilders are making their homes more comfortable and competitive with high-efficiency propane heating systems and tankless water heaters that economically provide users all the hot water they need, on demand.
Much of this was in the message PERC delivered to Capitol Hill in October when President and CEO Roy Willis was given the opportunity to testify before a Senate Subcommittee on Energy oversight hearing on energy checkoff programs. We believe that PERC had faithfully and transparently implemented our authorizing legislation — the Propane Education and Research Act of 1996 — and welcome a public conversation to ensure the statute is working to best serve both our industry and our nation.
A leading example of the Council's service is the steady flow of new products and technologies from PERC's research and development and commercialization initiatives. Owing to the focus and direction provided in the first full year of our new Propane Equipment Launch, or Propel, project-management process, the innovations produced through PERC research partnerships should meet the needs of customers in many markets.
But the only way new propane technologies can make a difference in the marketplace is if marketers commit to showing customers how the products can improve their businesses and their lives. PERC's new Marketer Technology Training program, launched in 2010, is designed expressly to show marketers how partnering with retailers of propane-fueled appliances, equipment, and vehicles can create new propane customers or generate more sales to customers who today use propane only to heat their homes or businesses. You can read about some of their successes in this annual report. In a similar vein, PERC's new online Propane Training Academy for construction professionals is designed to grow propane sales by giving builders and architects the training, tools, and resources to incorporate propane products in their projects. Expansion of both of these programs is a top priority for PERC for 2011.
In 2011, PERC will continue to support the development and launch of new on-road vehicles
that run on propane autogas. That name is familiar to the rest of the world but new to the U.S. market: propane autogas. Early in 2011, PERC, industry leaders, equipment manufacturers,
and other partners officially adopted it to describe the world's most widely used alternative transportation fuel.
We have accomplished a lot in this century's first decade and in propane's first century. Now
we should be thinking about our industry's future. That's why PERC will unveil in the spring of 2011 a nationwide Propane Challenge to ignite innovation, engage thought leaders, and foster
a competitive spirit among researchers and product developers in support of the future
use of propane.
This is an exciting time to be part of the propane industry. With all of us working together, and the team at PERC providing the support we have always counted on, we will meet all the challenges that lie ahead.