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Propane proponents say it is cheaper and cleaner

By DORIS NEWMAN The Monitor Staff
Oct. 30, 2012 at 10 p.m.


Extoling the virtues of propane and helping the public access alternative fueled vehicles was the purpose of a workshop held by the Railroad Commission Wednesday at Gas and Supply Company near Mineola.

The event drew representatives from a variety of entities across Texas, several of whom took part in the Incentives for Propane Fleets program held at the Mineola company. School districts from Lindale, Greenville, Melissa, Carthage, Dallas as well as representatives from the city of Temple were at the seminar.

Mineola School District and the Wood County Special Education Cooperative representatives also attended the meeting.

"It's a good time to be looking at ways to reduce your NOx," Heather Ball, director of marketing for the RRC said. Noticing a questioning look she explained, "sulphur dioxide, a precursor to smog."

Benefits, she said, as well as reducing fuel costs, which Ball said are, "probably about half the fuel costs of regular gas or diesel" for those using propane-powered school buses. "Your kids are going to be breathing fewer particulates." She said propane provides a 99 percent reduction of "the little black particulates that are being breathed in your lungs."

Seminar organizers presented satisfied customers of the alternative fuel and one of those was Jamal Moharer, owner of Tyler Taxi service. Moharer said he has six propane-powered vehicles he has acquired over time and plans to get more as the company can afford them.

"It's a business decision and it drives our viability," he said. Moharer said his company burns about 400,000 gallons of gas a year and the switch to propane has resulted in a 50 percent reduction in fuel costs.

"That quickly adds up," he said. He continued that while finances are a "driving force" in decisions in the private sector, the reduction in emissions and national security benefits are benefits as well.

"I don't see a downside," he said.

Information from the RRC promotes reasons to use propane, stating it is cleaner, cutting emissions by 83 to 99 percent. It it economical, and the state public entities under their grants report paying a current average price for propane that is less than half the price per gallon they pay for diesel. Additionally, 80 to 90 percent of it is U.S. produced and what is imported is from Canada.

Additionally, they state, there are many incentives to go to propane.

Funding sources millions of dollars in incentives to various types of organization and the RRC helps find those.

Tim Jones, an executive analyst with the Dallas County Schools, said since Dallas is in a nonattainment area the air quality benefits of propane-fueled school buses is a major factor. And, "we can afford it because we have utilized grants to fund not only the vehicles, but the infrastructure as well."

Jones said for the Dallas County fleet, it is about 45 percent cheaper with the propane vehicles in their fleet over the gasoline fueled vehicles, and 48 percent cheaper than the diesel-powered ones. That was what he experienced in the 2011-2012 school year. But, he said, switching to propane would also do the same thing in smaller quantities.

Also, one of the benefits it noted with the cleaner burning aspect of propane is that it keeps engines cleaner. There have been questions about power, but Jones and Moharer noted the "power curve" of propane fuel has been improved and as far as school buses are concerned, "buses are not noted as being great fuel kings. The same with trash trucks."

The RRC says there are more than 800 public propane refueling outlets in the state.

Another fan of the fuel was Wes Welch of Mt. Pleasant, owner of Welch Gas, who says he is one of the few who owns a propane powered mower to maintain his properties.

Welch said he was well pleased, saying it has cuts his fuel costs as well as maintenance needs.

"I'm very pleased with it," he said. "About the only downside is my employees fight now over who gets to mow the yard."

The Mineola workshop was one of several scheduled around the state.

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