NPGA’S New Online Tool Crowdsources Wait Times to Boost Industry Efficiency

Last winter, National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) staff were making rounds of calls to see how long drivers were waiting at propane supply points. They needed this information to help determine if a federal hours-of-service waiver was required. As they were making the calls, Eric Sears, manager, state association relations, wondered, “What if there was an app for the propane industry?”

Now, in time for use this winter, there is. NPGA’s new Propane Logistics Analysis Network (PLAN) online tool allows users to share their wait times or view others’ reported wait times at more than 400 propane supply points across the country. NPGA notes that PLAN may be subject to error. PLAN is available online and through an update to the NPGAction app.

“Quite simply, the information you need will be at your fingertips, either at your desktop computer or on your mobile device,” explains Lesley Brown Garland, vice president, state affairs at NPGA. “You won’t have to make phone calls or rely on cameras. PLAN also links to NPGA’s hours-of-service waiver alerts, so if the state you’re working in has an active waiver or emergency declaration, it is highlighted for you so you don’t have to go searching your state’s department of transportation or highway patrol website.”

To see the reported wait time at a location, the user begins at PLAN’s home page and chooses to search by state or use the device’s location to find the closest supply points. After choosing a state, the user can view the terminals alphabetically. If there is an emergency declaration for a state, it will appear in a yellow bar. After selecting a location, the user can view its recently reported wait times.

Users of PLAN can also share their own wait time. To report a wait time at a location, the user chooses the state and the location; selects the wait time for the location; enters his or her name and phone number; and then submits the information. Wait times can be reported in two-hour increments, ranging from a 0-2-hour wait to a 12-plus-hour wait. Reported wait times are time- and date-stamped.

Because PLAN is a crowdsourced online tool, it relies on active user input. NPGA encourages drivers, dispatchers, terminal managers, and wholesaler suppliers to enter wait times at supply points. By using the tool and adding their wait times, the association explains, users can help PLAN grow and provide timely information to the industry.

NPGA developed PLAN with the support of its Propane Supply & Logistics Committee and with the assistance of state and regional association executives as well as propane businesses.

During the development of the online tool, some of these industry experts were concerned that it would report on the storage capacity or volume available at a supply point. As a result, PLAN does not represent supply levels, pricing, or other market variables.

Another concern was that drivers can’t use the app while they are driving. So, NPGA made PLAN simple and quick to use so a driver can open it while waiting in line or at their next stop and not violate any laws. PLAN is also accessible online so dispatchers or managers can submit wait times from drivers.

Some of those who assisted in the development of PLAN noted that supply points routinely close or shut down for maintenance or standard procedures. To answer that concern, NPGA added a feature that shows if a supply point is closed for maintenance. The association also asks PLAN users to inform staff when this happens, using the support link.

Some were concerned about the accuracy of information reported through crowdsourcing. “Crowdsourcing does open the door for mischief,” Garland notes. “However, NPGA staff is monitoring PLAN, so when outlier reports come in, we will contact the person that submitted it to verify there wasn’t an error made. If, for instance, there was an excessively long line reported at a terminal that was abnormal, then we discovered the contact information was invalid, we would remove the post from the system.”

The launch of PLAN in September was one of NPGA’s four “90-Day Criticals” for the third quarter of 2019.

“Since the tumultuous winter of 2013-14, the National Propane Gas Association and Propane Education & Research Council have worked with propane marketers, wholesalers, transportation providers, government and policy makers, as well as state and regional associations to provide tools and resources to prepare and respond to key weather events and logistical disruptions,” Garland explains.

PLAN is the latest addition to those tools and resources. By providing information on wait times, it will help NPGA justify the need for an hours-of-service waiver and it will help propane marketers select the supply point with the shortest wait so drivers can spend their time delivering propane rather than waiting to pick up supply.

PLAN is available online at and through an update to the NPGAction app. To get the NPGAction app, visit the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store.

To ask any questions about PLAN, or to report any supply points that are not in the system, email NPGA at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. — Steve Relyea

"Electrify Everything" Movement Becoming Major Focus Of NPGA

(October 14, 2019) — Amid changes in leadership and issues of focus at the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA), vice president and general counsel Jeff Petrash said that while some key issues are requiring less focus, a tsunami is brewing in the form of the “electrify everything” movement. “The Crane Rule hasn’t come up as a significant issue for almost a year,” Petrash said. “Natural gas expansion has also slowed, but we continue to monitor it and we can address concerns as they arise.” For Petrash and the staff at NPGA, weekly advocacy meetings of the staff help determine priorities and they, as well as the NPGA leadership, are concerned about a movement to cut carbon emissions that doesn’t consider the full fuel cycle of each form of energy.
General Counsel Jeff Petrash for National Propane Gas Assoc discusses with BPN magazine the misguided Electrify Everything movement BPN magazine is the propane industry's trusted source for news since 1939
“The promotion of electricity as a fuel with zero carbon emissions is very misleading,” Petrash explained. “We are decades and decades away from most electricity being renewable, and coal and natural gas are used predominantly to create electricity.” He added that when coal and natural gas are used to create electricity, efficiency is much lower than heating with propane or natural gas directly. “A full 70% of the energy value disappears before the electricity powers the house. Meanwhile, with propane and natural gas, nearly 90% of the fuel gets to the house. In these situations, an electric water heater will leave more than double the carbon footprint.”

Petrash commented he has seen an electric-powered Tesla with the license plate message, “No More Gas.” With the electricity likely created from coal, the emission of carbon into the environment is much greater than from a propane-powered vehicle, even though the emissions occur at the plant where electricity is produced. Petrash feels a license plate that says, “Coal Pwd” on an electric vehicle is a more fitting message. “Some in state legislatures across the United States would like to limit our fuel choices, literally ruling out propane-powered options in favor of higher carbon-producing energy in the full fuel cycle,” he said. “All of this is in the name of cutting carbon emissions and helping the environment, believe it or not!”

“NPGA has added staff to focus more on the activity of state legislatures. The state government level is where more of the movement is to cut fossil fuel usage in favor of electricity. We are not likely to see as much activity on the federal level as long as Republicans keep control of the White House and Senate.” Having a relationship with many key agencies and state government officials will only help the cause, according to Petrash. “We’ve worked with the governor’s energy advisors in many states. This has given us a seat at the table for other issues as they arise.

“Hours of service is another issue where we are able to answer questions that come up.” Being part of the National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO) has been important. “Three of us have been attending NASEO events,” he said. “We attended their winter meeting and five recent regional meetings.”

It is expected that NPGA and the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) will work together closely on the challenge to the electric movement. “NPGA will focus more on advocacy. PERC cannot lobby due to its governing statute, but can provide funding and speakers for educational programs and educational materials. We have Tucker Perkins, CEO at PERC, lined up to speak at a NASEO roundtable in Los Angeles,” Petrash said.

“Carbon labeling of consumer appliances is one advocacy approach NPGA is working on. It is encouraging that overall efficiency of consumer appliances be done through full fuel cycle (FFC) policy. We want carbon footprint information to be included on consumer appliances so that people have this information during the purchasing decision.”

In September, NPGA announced Stephen T. (Steve) Kaminski had been selected to serve as new president and CEO. "The new CEO joins NPGA at the time there is a need to ramp up our initiatives on challenging the ‘electrify everything’ movement,’” Petrash said. He noted that the staff has been working on updating winter preparation plans; internal policies and procedures; and other key documents to make sure the association is in good shape when it’s turned over from the current CEO, Rick Roldan, to the new CEO. “We don’t want the new CEO to have to worry about a lot of details like this. I feel confident the board has hired someone who is in lockstep with us on the challenge of electricity.” — Pat Thornton

Missouri VW Funding Applications Accepted Through Oct. 30, 201

(October 10, 2019) — The Missouri Department of Natural Resources is accepting applications for VW Funding from Tuesday, Oct. 1 through Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2019 at 5 p.m. Applications can be submitted directly to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. during the application period with the subject line “DERA Program Application.”

The department is maximizing state DERA program by aligning it with the Volkswagen Trust. The department plans to match the state Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) grant with Volkswagen Trust funds, ensuring Missouri qualifies for the federal matching bonus.

This is a cost-share program allowing both private and public entities to apply for DERA funding. The department matched the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) grant with Volkswagen Trust funds earning a bonus resulting in $750,000 of project funding for state fiscal year 2020.

Projects must fall under one of the following Eligible Diesel Emission Reduction Solutions: 
1. Diesel Engine Retrofit Technologies
2. Engine Upgrades and Remanufacture Systems
3. Clean Fuels and Additives
4. Idle reduction Technologies
5. Aerodynamic Technologies and Verified Low Rolling Resistance Tires
6. Engine Replacement
7. Vehicle and Equipment Replacements
8. Clean Alternative Fuel Conversion

Projects may include, but are not limited to, the following heavy-duty diesel types:
• Buses
• Medium-duty or heavy-duty trucks
• Marine Engines
• Locomotives
• Nonroad engines, equipment or vehicles used in
◦ Construction
◦ Handling of cargo (including at a port or airport)
◦ Agriculture
◦ Mining
◦ Energy production (including stationary generators and pumps)

For general information about DERA, see

Volkswagen Trust DERA Program Application and Instructions, Form--MO 780-2886
Implementation Guidelines
Program Requirements

Michigan Attorney General Ratchets Up Line 5 Pressure

Crowing about her “one-two legal punch” in an accompanying press release, Michigan Attorney Gen. Dana Nessel in late June filed a legal motion to dismiss Enbridge Inc.’s (Calgary) pending lawsuit before the state’s Court of Claims. That suit seeks to enforce previous Line 5 pipeline agreements. Nessel also took the first step to decommission the pipeline by filing a separate lawsuit in Ingham County Circuit Court.
Michigan Attorney General Ratchets Up Line 5 Pressure reports BPN 071519 The Weekly Propane Newsletter since 1939
“I have consistently stated that Enbridge’s pipelines in the straits need to be shut down as soon as possible because they present an unacceptable risk to the Great Lakes,” Nessel said. “Governor Whitmer tried her best to reach an agreement that would remove the pipelines from the straits on an expedited basis, but Enbridge walked away from negotiations and instead filed a lawsuit against the state. Once that occurred, there was no need for further delay.”

Nessel’s lawsuit asks the Ingham County Circuit Court to find that Enbridge’s continued operation of the dual pipelines beneath the Straits of Mackinac under an easement granted by Michigan in 1953 violates the public trust doctrine, is a common law public nuisance, and violates the Michigan Environmental Protection Act because it is likely to cause pollution impairment and destruction of water and other natural resources.

The attorney general’s legal action identifies a potential anchor strike as the most significant risk to Line 5. In 2017, state contractor Dynamic Risk Assessment Systems Inc. identified an anchor strike as the most “dominant” threat to Line 5. Her lawsuit seeks an order from the court to shut down and decommission the dual straits pipelines as soon as possible after a reasonable period to allow orderly adjustments by affected parties.

She also filed a motion for summary disposition in the Court of Claims. The motion argues that PA 359 (2018), legislation that created a new Straits Corridor Authority under Whitmer’s predecessor, Gov. Rick Snyder, is unconstitutional. The motion also seeks to abrogate agreements that gave Enbridge the right to build a lakebed tunnel to house a Line 5 replacement while continuing to operate the existing line beneath the straits through project completion.

“The location of the pipelines—which carry millions of gallons of oil each day and lie exposed in open water at the bottom of the straits—combines great ecological sensitivity with exceptional vulnerability to anchor strikes,” Nessel alleged. “This situation with Line 5 differs from other bodies of water where pipelines exist because the currents in the Straits of Mackinac are complex, variable, and remarkably fast and strong.”

Nessel added, “The continued operation of Line 5 presents an extraordinary, unreasonable threat to the public because of the very real risk of further anchor strikes, the inherent risks of pipeline operations, and the foreseeable, catastrophic effects if an oil spill occurs at the straits. We were extraordinarily lucky that we did not experience a complete rupture of Line 5 because, if we did, we would be cleaning up the Great Lakes and our shorelines for the rest of our lives, and the lives of our children as well.”

She cited an April 2018 incident in which an anchor was dragged by a vessel, its crew clueless that the dragging was occurring or when it commenced. The anchor ripped through electrical cables in the straits.

Line 5 received insignificant damage, only dents, and there was no risk of a leak. Nessel asserted the pipelines didn’t rupture because the anchor hit a section lying directly on the bottomlands. She maintained that if the anchor had dragged across an elevated section, the likely result would have been a complete rupture of Line 5.

The most recent legal actions follow Nessel issuing her first formal opinion as a newly sworn attorney general—that PA 359 was rammed through in a purportedly chaotic lame duck session of the legislature at the end of the Snyder administration, and was therefore unconstitutional. After her ruling, Nessel’s office notified all state agencies, including the Straits Corridor Authority, that PA 359 and any agreements relying on the statute were unenforceable.

“The debate over Line 5 has been raging for over five years,” Nessel said. “Real-world events have shown me we can’t wait another five to 10 years for Enbridge to build a tunnel. We cannot prevent accidental or emergency anchor deployments in one of the busiest shipping channels in the Great Lakes. And it only takes one such incident to cause an environmental and economic catastrophe. That is a risk no one should be willing to take.”

Clean Cities Budget Amendment Threatens To Completely Eliminate Funding

(June 19, 2019)  — Congressman Paul Gosar (R-AZ) has proposed an amendment to the FY 2020 Department of Energy (DOE) budget that would eliminate funding for the Clean Cities program. Clean Cities needs our help. Please contact your representatives and urge Congress to reject this proposed amendment when it comes to a vote on the House floor next week.
clean cities logoThe work of Clean Cities coalitions helps stimulate local, regional, and the national economy by providing new jobs in the transportation and clean-energy sector, which includes propane autogas.

In 2011, the National Clean Fleets Partnership was launched to help America’s commercial fleets accelerate  the adoption of alternative fuels. Clean Cities also collaborates with municipalities, law enforcement, public and private fleets, and other stakeholders, including federal agency collaborations such as with the National Parks Service.

At the 2014 Energy Independence Summit, outgoing PERC president and CEO Roy Willis remarked, “For 20 years, Clean Cities has built partnerships with local and statewide organizations to encourage the adoption of alternative fuels and new transportation technology.”

PERC forecasts continued growth for autogas use in public and private fleet markets and predicts, by 2020, an additional 79,900 propane vehicles will be added to U.S. roadways.

In 2017, the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) reported that the total number of propane autogas vehicles had grown by more than 35% over the past four years, with about 200,000 vehicles now in use in U.S. private and public fleets. Clean Cities has played an instrumental role in the success of many of these initiatives. 

Please contact your House members directly by phone and email. Here are some brief talking points you can use with your House members:
  • The Clean Cities program is the DOE's ONLY initiative focused on the deployment of cleaner fuels, including near-zero emissions propane autogas, advanced technology vehicles, and alternative refueling infrastructure in which propane autogas provides the lowest total-cost-of-ownership of any clean fuel.
  •  Since 1993, the nation's 90+ Clean Cities Coalitions and their 15,000 stakeholders have played a leading role in displacing petroleum consumption, improving air quality, and enhancing energy security in which propane autogas is a clean, abundant domestic fuel that reduces our dependence on foreign oil imports.
  • The program leverages an additional $10 in public and private investment for every federal dollar spent; these funds are used in communities across America to help local fleets transition to cleaner fuels and vehicles, and to develop new refueling stations in which clean, propane autogas has played a key role.
  • The program has enjoyed 25 years of bipartisan support; we urge you to demonstrate that support by opposing the Gosar amendment. Clean Cities has been a staunch advocate of propane autogas as a source of clean transportation fuel in vehicles, school buses, shuttles, paratransit buses, and other transportation applications.
Please share this with your colleagues and contacts via social media or e-mail, and urge them to contact their members of the House of Representatives.

Click here to find contact information for your Representative