Popular New Safety, Comfort Options on Truck Chassis

(March 17, 2020) — Those looking for a new bobtail, service truck, or cylinder delivery truck have some new options to consider when selecting a chassis. These include higher-displacement gasoline and propane motors, Allison transmissions backed by a longer warranty, and, in July, new medium-duty trucks from Mack Trucks.
BPN profiles the latest popular safety and comfort options for propane autogas lpg bobtail delivery trucks, service trucks, cylinder delivery truck chassis to consider when selecting a chassisBPN spoke with several truck builders who work with any and all of the chassis available to build bobtails and service trucks. They shared news of the currently available chassis; longer-term trends on the equipment options being chosen by propane marketers; and tips for working with a truck dealer and a truck builder to develop a truck that will best do the job over the long haul.

Among the Class 7 (33,000 GVWR) chassis commonly used for bobtails, there have been a few changes. These chassis are generally fitted with 3200-gal. to 3499-gal. tanks.

The Freightliner S2G is now available with a choice of two factory-installed propane autogas engines: the DriveForce 8.0L and the all-new DriveForce 8.8L, which became available on model year 2020 S2Gs.

Another Freightliner medium-duty chassis offers a choice of four diesel engines; the Freightliner M2 106 is available with the Cummins B6.7, Cummins L9, Detroit DD5, and Detroit DD8.

Lin’s Propane Trucks (Dighton, Mass.) uses Freightliner chassis for just over half of the bobtails it builds. In 2019, 44% of the bobtails it built were M2 and another 7% were S2G.
Chassis LINs propane Trucks profiled by bpn the lpg autogas industrys leading source for news since 1939 profiles the latest safety comfort features march 2020
“Freightliner is definitely the most popular,” says Scott Swensen, sales at Lin’s Propane Trucks. “The cabs are a little lower, which makes climbing in and out easier. That’s important when you’re doing that 40 or 50 times a day. Freightliner trucks also have a tighter turning radius, so you can swing in rather than making a two- or three-point turn. They also have great visibility.”

The Hino 338 and other Class 6-8 Hino trucks now come standard with a five-year, unlimited-mileage transmission warranty on all Allison transmission-equipped vehicles. Hino announced this extended warranty in June 2019, effective immediately. Hino conventional trucks already had a standard five-year, 250,000-mile engine warranty. The Hino 338 is equipped with Hino Trucks’ proprietary J08 engine, an 8-liter inline six-cylinder diesel engine.

“Hino’s warranty is five years; the others’ standard warranty is two years,” Swensen says. “That goes a long way with some people.”

The International MV607 is available with a choice of two inline six-cylinder diesel engines: the 6.7-liter Cummins B6.7 and the 8.9-liter Cummins L9. The B6.7 is backed by a three-year, unlimited-mileage warranty, and the L9 has a two-year, 250,000-mile warranty.

PACCAR brands’ medium-duty chassis are available with a choice of two inline six-cylinder engines. The Kenworth T370 and the Peterbilt 337 are available with the 6.7-liter PACCAR PX-7 and the 8.9-liter PACCAR PX-9.
Chassis propane autogas trucks profiled by BPN the lpg industrys leading source for news since 1939 details latest popular safety comfort features
“Kenworth has been our most popular chassis,” says Steve Bloomstrand, sales and marketing manager at Rocket Supply (Roberts, Ill.). “Our customers like the name brand, the interior layout, and the reliability. This is a stout truck; it’s a Class 8 de-rated to a Class 7. The PX engines have a good reputation, too.”

Mack Trucks announced Jan. 30 that it will begin producing an all-new model range of medium-duty trucks in July. Called the Mack MD Series, it includes the Mack MD6, a Class 6 model that has a GVWR of 25,995 pounds, and the MD7, a Class 7 model that has a GVWR of 33,000 pounds. Propane truck builders told BPN they are anxious to see the specs of this new entry to see if it will be a competitive new option for bobtails.

Cylinder Delivery, Service Trucks
Also commonly seen in the propane industry are the 19,500 GVWR chassis often used for service trucks, cylinder delivery trucks, and for bobtails with up to 1200-gal. tanks.

Ford Super Duty Chassis Cab models are now available with an all-new 7.3-liter V8 gasoline engine in addition to the 6.7-liter Power Stroke V8 diesel engine and a 6.2-liter gasoline V8. The new 7.3-liter V8 provides 350 horsepower and 468 ft-lbs of torque. An all-new 10-speed automatic transmission is standard with all engines.
bpn the propane industrys leading source for news since 1939 profiles safety, comfort options popular on autogas truck Chassis including H H Sales propane autogas bobtails
“For the 2020 model year, Ford has a new 7.3-liter gasoline engine that offers more robust horsepower and torque,” says John Hawkins, CEO of H&H Sales Co. (Huntertown, Ind.). “It has just hit the marketplace, but I think we will see more people choosing that engine as time goes on.”

H&H Sales Co. builds cylinder delivery trucks and crane service trucks using mostly Class 4-7 trucks. For the crane service trucks that will be handling 250-gal. to 1000-gal. tanks, the company uses Chevrolet, Ford, and Ram chassis. For those that will be equipped with knuckleboom or articulating cranes for handling 1000-gal. to 2000-gal. tanks, H&H uses Ford, Freightliner, Kenworth, and International chassis.

“We have sold a lot more gasoline engines, because they are less expensive to operate and the initial cost is less,” Hawkins adds. “Diesel engines have become more expensive to buy and to maintain.”

Fisk Tank Carrier (Columbus, Wis.), too, builds crane service trucks and cylinder trucks. Ninety percent of those it builds are based on the Ford F-550 chassis. Of those, one out of three are equipped with gasoline engines converted to propane.
BPN profiles popular safety and comfort options on propane truck Chassis FISK and other leading manufacturers profiled propane autogas trucks  031720
“The new 7.3-liter engine has a lot of marketers excited,” says Josh Budworth, director of sales and operations at Fisk Tank Carrier. “There’s a ton of interest in that motor in the Ford. It has a lot more torque at the low end, so it may be the best option for a service truck. Marketers are really looking at that engine as a powerhouse gas engine to convert to propane.”

While 90% of the crane service trucks built by Fisk Tank Carrier are Ford F-550s, the other 10% are primarily Ram. “Pretty much any Ram or Ford dealer can work on the trucks we sell,” Budworth reports. “They are familiar with these engines.”

For the Fords converted to propane, he adds, “We use the Alliance AutoGas conversion systems. They have service centers across the country; it’s great to have that service network. There’s never been a better time to run your trucks on propane.”

The current generation of Ram commercial work trucks was introduced in 2019. The Ram 3500, 4500, and 5500 Chassis Cab trucks represent Class 3, 4, and 5 GVW ratings. They are available with a 6.4-liter HEMI V8 gasoline engine and a 6.7-liter Cummins V8 diesel engine. The 6.4-liter engine is available with an eight-speed automatic transmission (3500 only) or a six-speed automatic. The 6.7-liter diesel is paired with a six-speed automatic.

Chevrolet launched its Silverado Class 4, Class 5, and Class 6 chassis cab trucks at the end of 2018. The Silverado C4500, C5500, and C6500 have a GVWR range from 16,500 pounds, 19,500 pounds, and 22,500 pounds. They are powered by a Duramax 6.6L Turbo-Diesel V8 paired with an Allison transmission. “We can use this chassis for both our crane service bodies and cylinder delivery,” says Hawkins of H&H Sales.

“We’re getting a lot more inquiries about the Chevrolet Silverado 6500 HD,” says Budworth of Fisk Tank Carrier. “There are many cab to axle configurations in the 4500, 5500, 6500 series, and all available with four-wheel drive—even the 6500 has the factory four-wheel drive option available. We have a few of those slotted to build right now.”

Lin’s Propane Trucks uses these Ford, Dodge, and Chevy chassis for bobtails with 1200-gal. tanks. “Generally, these are for someone who is driving into mountains, say for a cell tower account,” Swensen explains. “These trucks are also used for weekend, on-call duty, like for an out-of-gas call. They can fix the leak, check it, and then fill the tank without having to go back. You have to have the right accounts for that type of truck, because it costs the same as a bobtail.”
BPN the propane industry leading source for news since 1939 profiles popular new safety and comfort features of lpg autogas Chassis WESTMOR leading mfg
Westmor (Morris, Minn.) offers a bobtail on these chassis with a 500-gal. to 1200-gal. tank. This Blueline MX bobtail is dubbed the “maneuverability model.” Milt Swenson, territory manager, vessel sales and special projects, explains, “This for getting in and out of smaller areas. It’s typically a smaller truck on a Ford or Chevy chassis. It’s not as prevalent as the bigger bobtails.”

Danny McElroy, executive vice president and general manager of White River Distributors Southwest Sales Center (Dallas), says that among these trucks, “People seem to like the Dodge diesel or the Ford gas engine. We sell both.
WHITE RIVER mfg of propane autogas trucks bobtails Chassis popular safety and comfort features profiled by BPN lpg industry leading source for news since 1939
“Diesel tends to have a little more power. Customers may have other diesels in their fleet, too, so they may want a new one for that reason,” McElroy explains. “People buy the Ford gas engine to get a propane conversion put on, because Ford offers a gas prep engine for conversions to natural gas or propane. Texas is trending toward dedicated alternate fuel vehicles with grant money available through the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality.”

Safety, Handling
Along with these latest developments and current offerings of chassis, the truck builders highlighted longer-term trends they see in the equipment options chosen when speccing a chassis.
Popular Propane autogas truck safety, comfort features profiled by bpn the lpg industry leading source of news since 1939 Chassis MISSississippi Trucks and others profiled
“Most of our customers are looking for safety, first and foremost,” says Joey Runnels, vice president of Mississippi Tank (Hattiesburg, Miss.). “That means visibility out of the cab; an automatic transmission, so there’s nothing to shift; and aftermarket backup cameras and sensors.”

“Disc brakes are becoming popular, as opposed to drum brakes,” says Swensen of Lin’s Propane Trucks. “There is an up-charge for discs, but they stop better. Disc brakes are not a huge percentage, but there are more coming though.”

“A locking rear differential has become almost a standard item; it is not standard on the trucks, but it has become kind of a standard in our industry,” says Bloomstrand of Rocket Supply. “It’s all we stock and it’s something most customers want. When you are in snow or on soft ground, like you might be with an agricultural customer, a locking rear differential allows both wheels, on both sides of the truck, to lock in rather than having one wheel spin.”

“Another thing to consider is weight savings on the chassis,” he adds. “Aluminum wheels and the engine you spec can make for a lighter chassis. That means you can carry more.”

Appearance, Comfort Options
Several truck builders reported that options that add comfort, convenience, and appearance upgrades have become more popular in recent years.
Safety and new comfort features most popular on propane autogas bobtail chassis trucks CUSTOM Truck One Source and other mfg profiled
“We’re seeing a lot more driver comforts, like air ride seats and automatic transmissions,” says Wayne Terpstra, Custom Truck One Source (Kansas City, Mo.). “It’s rare to see anyone want a manual transmission; that’s a big change from a few years ago. That’s because the Allison 3000 is a proven product and because propane marketers are trying to attract CDL drivers, and a lot of younger drivers don’t know how to drive a manual. Newer equipment tends to hold your driver. The more comfortable they are, the better off you are.”

“I’m seeing a lot of up-optioning, with people getting climate control; power door locks; heated mirrors; and more chrome,” says Bloomstrand of Rocket Supply. “The truck is primarily what customers see. Fewer people come into the propane marketer’s office, so what they see is the truck. The truck is representative of the company. This also helps with hiring and retention. The truck is the driver’s office, so making it more comfortable helps with retention.”

JARCO (Salem, Ill.) tends to build its bobtails with the higher-horsepower engines that are available and with an appearance package that includes chrome and polished accessories. “I’ve tried going with the smaller engine and without the bells and whistles, but they don’t seem to sell so well,” says Tim Thrash, sales manager. “I think some of it is image. That’s your rolling billboard. People take good care of their trucks and they want to put out that image of a good-looking truck delivering propane to your home.”
popular new safety and comfort features profiled by BPN of Chassis and leading mfg JARCO propane autogas trucks bobtails
“The chassis is kind of a customer preference,” says Runnels of Mississippi Tank. “Often, they will want to stick with what they’ve got. Others want a mixture of chassis in their fleet, because they don’t want to be married to one. When it comes to the body, some want a wider cab with a wider windshield. The wider cab gives them more room for storage for things like printers.”

“The marketer might lean toward a certain chassis because of dealership relationship, cab comfort, visibility, etc.,” says Rob Vandemark, vice president, Industrial Propane Service (IPS; Byron, Mich.).

“The common chassis we see are Freightliner, International, Kenworth, and Peterbilt, which are all using Cummins engines and Allison RDS transmissions,” he adds. “Typical options are more durable seat covers, A/C, block heater, heated mirrors, locking rear diff, Bluetooth radio, and power locks and windows.”
IPS and other leading propane autogas truck mfg safety and comfort features profiled by bpn the lpg industry leading source for news since 1939
Smaller Diesel Engines
Tim Schweppe, general manager, propane division, at Arrow Tank and Engineering Co. (Minneapolis), reports another trend he’s seen when it comes to single-axle bobtails: smaller diesel engines.

“As technology has evolved, smaller displacement diesels are pushing out high horsepower and strong torque figures that utilize the multiplying capabilities of an automatic transmission, resulting in one fine hooptie that gets the job done,” he explains.
ARROW Chassis propane autogas truck and bobtails new features popular in bobtails and service trucks profile by BPN lpg industry's leading source for news since 1939
“Another great benefit of these smaller engines, such as the Cummins B6.7 or PACCAR PX-7, is the performance, life expectancy, and cost versus the larger counterparts,” Schweppe adds. “When comparing the smaller engine with 325 horsepower and 750 torque to its big brother of similar horsepower and torque, the smaller guy is very attractive.”

He explains that the smaller engine is lighter, which translates into more payload when pushing the 33,000 GVWR; the smaller engine’s life expectancy is within 11% of the bigger engine’s; and the smaller engine can be purchased with a five-year, 250,000-mile engine, aftertreatment, and towing coverage for less money than the equivalent larger engine with no added warranty.

One downside of the smaller engine is that the block is considered disposable, because it is not sleeved. “When the engine reaches end of life, you replace the entire block,” Schweppe says. The bigger motors, he adds, are sleeved and can be completely rebuilt. “However,” Schweppe says, “the trigger for truck replacement tends to be driven by soaring repair and maintenance costs for everything else around the engine, which again makes the smaller guy a great fit for the application.”

However, on bobtails with bigger tanks—5000 gallons and up—“the bigger motors are the only way to go,” Schweppe says. For these bobtails, the norm is engine ratings of 350-370 hp with 1150-1250 lb-ft of torque; on occasion, Arrow uses a chassis with 450 hp and 1650 lb-ft of torque.

“This type of power comes in the form of a bigger truck (Freightliner 114SD, Kenworth T880, Peterbilt 567) and a substantial price,” Schweppe says. “The added cost of these bragging rights is anywhere from $30,000 to $50,000, depending upon the options. Keep in mind, nearly everything on these trucks is bigger and stronger, resulting in improved longevity.”

Communication Before, During Build
Truck builders often guide customers through these choices and the many others that go into speccing a truck for duty in the propane industry. For the best results, they say, the builder should be involved in the process from the beginning, before the chassis is even purchased.

Some customers buy a completed truck; some buy a chassis cab from their local truck dealer and then have a builder add the propane equipment; and others buy the chassis as well as the equipment from the truck builder. In any case, the builder should be involved from the beginning.

“It’s a good thing to have the builder in contact with the dealer, or at least have a dealer who knows our industry,” says Swenson of Westmor. “As the builder, we need to mount equipment between the frame rails, so we need the cross-members to be out of the way. We need to coordinate with the chassis manufacturer.”

“We like to sell a turnkey truck, as our customers rely on us to order the chassis to complete the upfit,” says Hawkins of H&H Sales Co. “We have become a one-stop shop. That saves the customer the headaches of going to three or four different sources to put together a truck.

“We like to order the chassis because we can get fleet discounts that the customer usually cannot get from their dealership and because truck dealers’ salespeople don’t understand our industry, as far as selecting the right equipment for the additional equipment that we are going to add,” Hawkins explains. “Too many customers ‘under-truck’ themselves by getting less GVWR than they really need for the payload they are going to carry. I tell them, ‘No, you need to be in this size truck to carry the payload.’”

Arrow Tank, similarly, now supplies about 90% of the chassis for the complete bobtails it builds. “The chassis sale is certainly not a profitable business venture, but it’s a major value-add in the grand scheme for both the end-user and Arrow Tank,” Schweppe says.

“As the original equipment manufacturer (OEM), we order trucks that are specific to the application, utilizing discounted prices based on volume and our relationships with the various brands,” he explains. “We gladly share that pricing to control costs and equip trucks with better features inside and out. For the end-user, this is a big deal when it comes to driver retention, safety, overall performance, and reduced cost of ownership.”

“What people don’t usually recognize is the additional behind-the-scenes value,” Schweppe adds. “This value is present in the form of making sure that everything fits, all the connectivity is onboard, and the components are where they belong.”

He explains that by supplying the chassis, Arrow Tank and other upfitters can select a proper chassis for the bobtail and utilize their own, trusted dealer network to perform pre-delivery inspections (PDIs). Those PDIs ensure any faults are corrected before the chassis is shipped to Arrow Tank’s or the other upfitter’s plant for assembly. “Like I said,” Schweppe concludes, “it’s a better value for everyone.”

Some propane marketers want to supply the chassis because they want to buy it from a local dealer they have a relationship with, Terpstra of Custom Truck One Source notes.

“For buyers who want to provide a chassis, we provide engineered drawings they should give to the dealer,” he adds. “They need to consider the measurements, the position of the crossmembers on the frame rails, the way the mufflers run—there are all kinds of issues there. We give them the information they need. Most body builders have that conversation with the retailers. We don’t want to have to move things, because that can void the warranty. Plus, if it’s easier to mount, it costs less money.”

“Propane marketers often have a good idea of what chassis they want,” says Thrash of JARCO. “When I ask customers what chassis they want, they tell me that’s what their dad always bought. Others choose a chassis based on their proximity to a dealership where they can get it serviced. Then I walk them through the highlights of the truck, the engine and the transmission, and then put together a proposal that has the full chassis specs. We have a lot of repeat customers and some say, ‘Build me another truck just like the last one.’”

JARCO also gives its customers a weight scale drawing. “We take a frame drawing and our engineer puts on there the front axle weight, the rear axle weight, and the total weight so you know when you load the truck to 85%, here’s where your weight is going to be,” Thrash explains. “A 3200-gal. tank will get on a scale and work anywhere, but a 3400-gal. tank is real close to the weight limit for the majority of the country. That’s when your weight becomes important, so we show exactly where you’re going to be with the weight.”

In addition to involving the truck builder before the purchase, builders suggest considering who will service the truck long after the sale.

Swensen of Lin’s Propane Trucks finds that propane marketers who have an independent repair shop they trust, are less concerned with the brand of the chassis. “Some people take into account the dealer—Who is best for service?—but after two years, when the warranty ends, that’s not an issue. Brand doesn’t matter if you just find a good mechanic.”

Bloomstrand of Rocket Supply, too, says service after the sale plays a part in selecting a chassis. “One thing to look at is, after the sale, where will the truck be serviced? If the service is farther away, that could be a concern,” he notes. “So: Do you have relationships built? Do you have a dealership you already frequent? Is there a dealership that is closer for service? As far as what you buy, all the chassis are good. Most new chassis are going to run 200,000 or 300,000 miles. It’s just your preference and what dealers you have nearby.” — Steve Relyea

2018 Retail Propane Sales Jump 13.6%

(March 16, 2020) — U.S. retail sales of odorized propane topped off at 9.3 billion gallons in 2018, marking a 13.6% advance over the 8.2 billion gallons sold in 2017, reports ICF International’s Annual Retail Propane Sales Report: U.S. Odorized Propane Sales by State and End-Use Sector. As noted by the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC), which commissions the annual survey, the stronger tally marked the first time since 2014 that sales exceeded 9 billion gallons. Further, compared to the previous decade, 2018 sales were 9.56% above the 10-year average of 8.6 billion gallons of odorized propane sold per year.
Retail Propane Sales Jumped 13.6% in 2018 reports BPN the LPG industry's leading and trusted source for news since 1939
In its second sales report for PERC since taking over duties from the American Petroleum Institute, ICF International comments that during 2018 the U.S. experienced warmer-than-normal average weather conditions throughout the year. However, winter temperatures were 11.6% colder than a year earlier, which supported a sharp year-on-year boost for heating load across most of the nation. In the extreme, significant portions of the West suffered record drought and two major hurricanes made landfall in the Carolinas and the Florida Panhandle.

Regional highlights in the report include the Midwest accounting for 38.5% of total U.S. propane sales to register a small relative increase from the 37.6% share in 2017. In 2018, the region was 15% colder compared to the prior year and about 5% colder than the 20-year average from 1999 to 2018. Meanwhile, residential sales climbed from 59% of the Midwest’s total sales in 2017 to 63% and lifted residential volumes to 2.271 billion gallons. In-region sales increases were driven by colder-than-normal winter weather, given the high space heating loads and relatively unchanged number of residential households using propane over the past five years. Midwest agriculture propane sales ended at 548 million gallons and represented 18% of total regional sales.
Retail Propane Sales Jumped 13.6% in 2018 reports Butane Propane News the LPG industry leading source for news since 1939
The South accounted for 26.9% of total U.S. propane sales. Following one of the warmest winters in 2017, a large yearly rise in propane demand was supported by colder-than-normal weather conditions and increased demand from the agricultural sector in 2018. Texas was 46% colder in 2018 than in 2017, with heating degree days climbing from 1346 to 1961 year over year. Other southern states were between 13% and 34% colder than the previous year.

The residential sector represented 46% of total sales, increasing from 959 million gallons in 2017 to 1.155 billion gallons a year later. But propane continued to lose market share to electricity for household space heating in the South, although there has been a slowdown for that trend. In 2018, the region averaged 256 gallons sold per residential account, a 24% increase from the prior year’s average of 207 gallons.
Retail propane Sales Jumped 13.6 percent in 2018 reports BPN Butane Propane News the propane industry's leading source for news since 1939
The West accounted for 16.8% of total U.S. propane sales. Following a warmer-than-normal winter in 2017, winter temperatures in the Rocky Mountain and southwestern regions turned 9% colder in 2018. The region averaged 432 gallons sold per residential account, an 8% increase over the previous year’s 401 gallons. Residential sales were 47% of total sales and rose from 699 million gallons in 2017 to 736 million gallons in 2019. Agricultural, commercial, and industrial sales climbed, increasing 12% to 648 million gallons, while internal combustion sales declined to 87 million gallons.

The Northeast accounted for 17.8% of total U.S. propane sales and enjoyed a 13.9% increase in year-over-year sales to 1.656 billion gallons in 2018. The region was 2% colder than the 20-year average, supporting higher sales per account and total heating demand. The Northeast continued to experience a net increase in propane-heated households, which rose 26% from 2012 to 2018, including a 2.7% improvement in 2018.

Residential sales represented 62% of the total, with commercial volumes accounting for 27%. The region had the highest share of residential and commercial sales, accounting for 89% of regional sales in 2018, or 1.470 billion gallons. In 2018, average residential sales per account climbed 18% year on year to average 397 gallons per account.
Although coronavirus has dampened retail Propane Sales in 2020 in 2018 LPG sales increased 13.6 percent in 2018 reports BPN the LPG industrys leading source for news since 1939
The top 10 states, ranked by total retail sales in 2018, accounted for 47.4% of U.S. propane sales, while the remaining 40 states and the District of Columbia represented 52.6% of total sales. Michigan passed California to become the top state by total sales in 2018 after placing second in 2017. Michigan was also the top-ranked state in residential sales, banking 453 million gallons in 2018. Second-place California was nonetheless the number one state in the commercial market with 136 million gallons sold; the cylinder market leader with for 45 million gallons sold; and was the first-place winner in the internal combustion segment with 46 million gallons in sales.

Minnesota held on to third place in total retail sales in 2018. The state was also ranked second in both the residential and agriculture sectors, whose respective sales volumes totaled 299 million gallons and 111 million gallons. Iowa moved from fifth to fourth in total sales, growing its gallons sold to 465 million. The state remained the top-ranked state for agriculture sales and ranked fifth in the residential sector. New York was the fifth ranked state by total sales in 2018 and placed third in the residential sector and fourth in the commercial sector. Residential sales totaled 283 million gallons and commercial 89 million gallons.

ICF International reports there were nearly 12 million residential accounts across the U.S. in 2018, a slight decline from 2017 levels. These residential accounts included 5.7 million households that used propane for primary space heating. The residential sector accounted for 55.6% of total sales, or 5.184 billion gallons. The sector had average sales of 436 gallons per account. The commercial sector represented 20.6% of total sales, or 1.924 billion gallons, with average sales of 1765 gallons per account. The agriculture sector made up 10.4% of total sales, or 966 million gallons, with average sales of 1914 gallons per account.

The industrial (non-forklift) sector comprised 4.4% of total sales, or 412 million gallons There was an average of 2230 gallons per account. The cylinder markets sector constituted 3.8% of sales, or 354 million gallons, with average sales of 1305 gallons per account. The internal combustion sector held 5.1% of sales, or 479 million gallons, with average sales of 3349 gallons per account.
Retail Propane Sales Increased 13.6 percent in 2018 reports BPN the LPG industry's leading source for news since 1939
10-Year Trend
ICF International outlines that over the past 10 years sales in the retail propane sector have risen modestly, fluctuating with changes in weather, relative fuel pricing, and general economic conditions. From 2008 to 2018, odorized propane volumes averaged 8.6 billion gallons a year. At the same time, residential propane sales declined, the result of both fewer total households using propane for space heating and continued improvements in energy efficiency.

But in 2018, residential propane sales per household increased by 17% to average 896 gallons. This reversed several years of lower-than-average residential sales due to warmer-than-normal weather. The rise of propane sales in 2018 was partly due to temperatures being colder than the 10-year-average year.

Additionally charted was that from 2009 to 2018, U.S. propane production underwent an unprecedented expansion, rising from 16.8 billion gallons to more than 30 billion gallons, which included minor volumes of propylene. This advance was nearly entirely due to growth in natural gas and liquids output, with propane production from gas processing plants increasing by 13.3% from 2017 to 2018 to reach 21.4 billion gallons, more than double 2018 U.S. retail propane sales.

As a result, the U.S. propane industry has undergone a dramatic transformation, with the focus dramatically shifting from domestic markets to an overriding emphasis on growing exports. U.S. propane/propylene exports rose from 0.8 billion gallons in 2008 to 14.5 billion gallons in 2018. Exports now represent more than 50% of U.S. production and are significantly larger than odorized propane sales. Simultaneously, in recent years there have been several new propane dehydrogenation, or PDH, facilities built in the U.S. to take advantage of growing domestic propane supply. These plants use propane to produce propylene, a primary product used to manufacture plastics.

The annual Retail Propane Sales Report is used to determine odorized sales to end-use sectors. It is the only source of state-level, end-use sector sales information. This data is required by PERC to fulfill requirements of the 1996 Propane Education and Research Act (PERA), legislation that created the council and charter its operations. Under the act, 20% of assessment collections are eligible for rebate back to states. Rebate allocations are determined by the percentage of odorized propane sales in each.

PERA also places limits on the share of total PERC investment in the on-road market to no more than the share of the total propane market used for motor vehicle combustion, and sets a minimum of 5% of total assessments that must be allocated to the agricultural sector each year.

The allocation of odorized propane sales between the states has a marked impact on PERC’s spending apportionments. Each state’s rebate amount is based on the latest retail sales data for residential, commercial, industrial, internal combustion engine fuel, agricultural uses, and sales to retail dispensers that are calculated using responses to the report survey. As a result, the confidential reporting of proprietary sales volumes by propane retailers is a critical component of PERC’s budgeting process, and to meet its PERA obligations. — John Needham

Cancelled: NPGA Southeastern Convention & International Propane EXPO

(March 16, 2020) — Following a declaration of a national emergency around COVID-19 by the President of the United States, the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) announced Friday the Southeastern Convention & International Propane EXPO, scheduled for Nashville, TN, April 5-8, has been cancelled.  
 NPGA SE Expo 2020 BPN propane industry leading news source since 1939
This decision was made unanimously by NPGA President and CEO, Steve Kaminski, along with each of NPGA’s officers, and the Chair of NPGA’s Convention Committee. 
Kaminski wanted to provide this information as soon as possible. Therefore, his message did not include next steps, either as pertains to the cancellation details as it relates to your registration or exhibition or any potential rescheduling. Additional information will be forthcoming from NPGA as soon as it is developed – they are working 24/7 on it and will share this information in the coming days as it becomes available.
The NPGA thanks you for your continued patience.
On another note, for informational purposes, the NPGA has provided guidance for propane marketers related to COVID-19. The guidance is not a legal document or legal advice, but we are hopeful it will be helpful to you in your own decision making regarding next steps and the COVID-19 outbreak. The goal of the NPGA is to continue to provide useful information to your businesses.

Webinar: Maintaining Fleet Safety & Service Levels During COVID-19 Crisis

NC Clean Energy Transportation Center hosting webinar to keep trucking industry and drivers safe during corona virus reports BPN the leading source of LPG news since 1939(March 12, 2020) —  With growing concerns about the impact of COVID-19 spreading across the United States and the world, a number of precautions are being undertaken. As this crisis may affect just about every aspect of our day-to-day life, fleets are not immune to this issue and are facing the challenge of maintaining a level of service despite concerns and restrictions, as well as maintaining the safety of their employees and customers. 

Please join the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center and the 100 Best Fleets Round Table for the "Maintaining Fleet Safety" Webinar, Thursdsay, Mar 19, 2020, from 1:00 p.m. to 2:15 p.m.. CDT. Issues, strategies and protocol regarding how fleets are planning and responding to this crisis, while safely and responsibly maintaining operations and their expected level of service under challenging circumstances will be discussed.

You can register for the webinar at http://bit.ly/2QahGtK

Centane Associates Announces Acquisition Of Hometowne Energy Co., Inc.

KENT, CONNECTICUT (March 10, 2020) – Cetane Associates LLC is pleased to announce that Sail Energy, LLC in Pourtsmouth, New Hampshire, has acquired the full-service energy business of Hometowne Energy Co., Inc. in Brockport, New York.

Hometowne Energy Acquired by Sail Energy Centane Associates provided acquisiton consulting services reports BPN propane industry leading source for news since 1939With an operational footprint spanning eighteen counties in western New York, Hometowne Energy sells and delivers bulk propane, heating oil, diesel, and gasoline to residential, commercial, and agricultural customers from five facility locations (Brockport, Rochester, Penn Yan, Farmington, and Newark). Hometowne Energy also maintains an extensive service department that installs and maintains heating and cooling equipment, hot water heaters, fuel oil tanks, and indoor air quality devices.

Sail Energy is a private equity backed company formed in 2014 to pursue growth through both organic and acquisition channels in the energy distribution market. With a veteran management team that has completed over 100 acquisitions, Sail Energy currently serves over 25,000 customers across four New England states under the brands of Pioneer Oil and Propane, Murray Heutz Oil and Propane, Vaughn Oil and now Hometowne Energy.

Chriss Andrews, President of Hometowne Energy, stated that “We are very pleased that Sail Energy chose to become the new owner of Hometowne Energy. They have a reputation for maintaining brand integrity and workplace culture when they make an acquisition. This was important to us since we really wanted to assure stability for both our customers and employees.”

Formally established in 2002, Hometowne can trace its roots back to the mid-1940’s with Arnold Oil. In 1971, Bill Arnold sold the business, operated from the company’s Brockport office and bulk plant to Robert Thompson, his son-in-law. In 1980, Robert sold the company to his son-in-law, Chriss Andrews. Chriss led and grew the business through several transitions into a full service business with a keen emphasis on responsive customer service. Under Chriss’ leadership, Hometowne Energy has grown into a thriving, regional competitor serving over 10,000 accounts comprised of residential, commercial, agricultural, and wholesale customers throughout Western New York State.

Dennis O’Brien, President and Chief Executive Officer of Sail Energy, commented, “We welcome Hometowne Energy into our family of companies as it extends our operating footprint for the first time outside of New England. The Hometowne Energy team has built a wonderful platform from which we plan to pursue further acquisitions in the region as well as within our New England footprint.” He went on to say, “Even though our due diligence process is exhaustive, my team really enjoyed working with Chriss and the folks at Cetane Associates to complete this acquisition. We look forward to a smooth transition for both customers and employees.”

Cetane Associates, LLC served as the sole arranger and financial advisor to Hometowne Energy. Cetane advised on the sale, including an initial valuation opinion, marketing the business through a confidential, formal process, negotiation of the final deal terms, and coordination of the due diligence process. The transaction was managed by team members Steve Abbate, Joshua Wolf, and Fred Lord.

About Cetane Associates
Cetane Associates, LLC is a leading provider of financial advisory services to owners of businesses in the retail energy distribution industry. Clients engage Cetane to advise on sales, spin-offs, and acquisitions, as well as perform valuation and ad hoc corporate finance assignments. For more information, please visit www.cetane.net.