GoPro Video Offers First-Hand Footage of Mower Operations

(August 5, 2019) — The Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) has released a new online video featuring footage captured by GoPro cameras positioned from the equipment operator’s point of view. The video shows what it’s really like to use a propane commercial mower. To view the video and see new resources for municipalities considering a shift to propane equipment, visit http://bit.ly/2yUwXWD.
Propane-powered Forklifts provide lowest-cost-of-ownership, clean air shows new GoPro video from Propane Council reports BpN the LPG industry's leading source for news and information since 1939.
“We were looking for a fun way to show equipment fleet managers, department directors, and professional landscapers what it’s really like to operate with propane,” said Jeremy Wishart, PERC director of off-road business development. “These first-hand accounts are really incredible and we hope the video can serve as a virtual demonstration to those who might be considering a move to commercial propane mowers.”

The video includes candid interviews with operators and supervisors from the city of Lake Charles, La. and the Miami-Dade County, Fla. Parks, Recreation, and Open Spaces (PROS) department to let viewers hear directly from mower fleets succeeding with propane. Public agencies and grounds maintenance departments of all kinds are turning to propane equipment for the fuel’s many benefits, including lower fuel costs and reduced emissions—both important facets of any municipal operation.

The city of Lake Charles, for example, wanted a way to improve local air quality by reducing emissions. The city saved more than $5500 on fuel and maintenance with 16 propane mowers during 2015. By 2016, the city reported that by using propane equipment it reduced greenhouse gas emissions by roughly 23,704 pounds. Lake Charles now uses 21 commercial mowers.

Miami-Dade County’s PROS department needed an equipment solution that could meet the needs of southeast Florida’s year-round cutting season. Because the fuel showed considerable efficiencies in the field and cost reductions, PROS now runs 32 commercial propane mowers, 95% of the fleet. With propane mowers, crews can get mowing done faster and move on to other aspects of the county’s landscape duties.

Monthly U.S. Crude Oil Imports From OPEC Fall to 30-Year Low

(August 2, 2019) — U.S. imports of crude oil from members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in March 2019 totaled 1.5 MMbbld, their lowest level since March 1986, based on data in the Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) Petroleum Supply Monthly report. U.S. crude imports from OPEC members have generally fallen over the previous decade as domestic oil production has increased, EIA comments.

Monthly U.S. Crude Oil Imports From OPEC Falls to 30-Year Low Affects Propane LPG Industry reports BPN Aug 2, 2019From the early 1980s through the late 2000s, OPEC member countries were the source of about half of all U.S. oil imports. In the past 10 years, however, total U.S. imports have fallen and OPEC’s share of those imports has decreased. Non-OPEC countries such as Canada, Mexico, Brazil, and Colombia have made up larger shares of U.S. crude imports. In each of the past four years, Canada alone has supplied more oil to the U.S. than all OPEC members combined.

Through the first three months of 2019, U.S. crude oil imports from OPEC members Venezuela and Iraq have fallen the most. In 2018, Venezuela was the source of 505,000 bbld of imports, or 20% of the OPEC total. In March, the U.S. imported just 47,000 bbld from Venezuela. Further, preliminary weekly reports show several weeks in March and May when the U.S. imported no crude from the OPEC founding-member nation.

U.S. sanctions directed at Venezuela’s energy sector, and state-owned PetrÓleos de Venezuela SA specifically, have driven U.S. imports to low levels. Before the U.S. imposed sanctions, imports had been declining as long-term mismanagement of Venezuela’s oil industry, and widespread power outages since the beginning of this year, led to significant declines in the country’s production.

U.S. crude oil imports from other OPEC countries also fell following a November 2016 agreement among cartel members and a number of non-OPEC producers to cut their collective oil output. As a result of the production curtailments, many OPEC members reduced exports to the U.S. in favor of growing markets in Asia. In the first three months of 2019, the volume of respective U.S. oil imports from Saudi Arabia and Iraq—the two largest sources of imports from OPEC in 2018—have averaged 26% and 28% below their year-ago average levels.

In 2018, the U.S. Gulf Coast region, Petroleum Administration for Defense District (PADD) 3, imported 1.4 MMbbld of OPEC crude oil, or 55% of the national total of OPEC imports. With the recent decline, the Gulf Coast imported just 513,000 bbld from the producer group in March 2019. Gulf imports of OPEC crude in March were below those for the West Coast region, marking the first time on record the Gulf Coast was not the predominant import area of OPEC crude oil in the U.S.

For total crude oil imports, the Midwest, PADD 2, has received more crude than the Gulf Coast in every month from November 2018 through March 2019, according to the latest available monthly data. Nearly all of the Midwest’s oil imports come from Canada. EIA comments that the decline in Gulf Coast crude imports and the recent rise in U.S. oil exports from the region has resulted in the Gulf becoming a net exporter in every month from November 2018 through March 2019. More than 90% of the U.S. crude oil exported since the start of 2018 has been shipped from Gulf Coast ports.

(SOURCE: The Weekly Propane Newsletter, July 29, 2019)

Rock Sampling Expediition Aboard Highland Eagle Vessel Shapes Line 5 Tunnel

The 236-ft vessel Highland Eagle will be going deep—for safety and the economy—over the next several months as drilling for rock samples from the ship gets under way. The work is in preparation for Calgary-based Enbridge Inc.’s monumental Line 5 tunnel project beneath Michigan’s Straits of Mackinac. Enbridge hosted tours July 10, 2019, aboard the Highland Eagle for elected officials, VIPs, and members of the media while it was docked in Detroit.

Highland Eagle Vessel Expedition For Rock Sampling To Determine Feasibility of Enbridge Line 5 propane pipeline “The vessel we are about to tour is tangible evidence of our commitment to the $40-million engineering and geotechnical program, which is being funded by Enbridge in the face of the state’s attempts to invalidate prior agreements and shut down the pipeline,” said Guy Jarvis, Enbridge’s executive vice president, liquids pipelines.

Enbridge remains committed to moving forward with its Line 5 straits tunnel project, a $500-million private investment in Michigan that could be under construc- tion by 2021 and in service by 2024. Placing the pipeline in a concrete tunnel about 100 feet underground would reduce the chances of a leak into the Great Lakes to virtually zero—and eliminate the possibility of an anchor strike in the straits.

The Highland Eagle typically works in an off-shore environment, performing investigative work for structures like wind turbines, bridges, and subsea tunnels. The rock sampling work to be carried out aboard it, and other vessels, will help determine the ultimate design and construction of the straits tunnel that will house a new Line 5. Analysis of the samples will also help determine the design of the tunnel boring machine, which will be custom designed to suit the geology of the Straits of Mackinac. The rock samples will also determine the characteristics of the tunnel’s concrete lining and the precise placement of the tunnel.

“The Highland Eagle is really a big piece of our project because, at the end of the day, it’s critical that we understand the geology of the straits,” said Enbridge project manager Amber Pastoor. “So, by getting this information, by using this specialized vessel, we’re going to make sure we can do that as safety and efficiently as possible.” The Highland Eagle departed Detroit and headed to the straits on the evening of July 10, where it will begin work by the end of the month.

Enbridge underscores that the straits tunnel solution is the best long-term opportunity to secure Michigan’s energy needs, while making an already safe pipeline safer. Line 5 is a critical source of propane and light oil for the state. It meets about 55% of statewide propane needs and feeds regional refineries producing gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel. The tunnel solution ensures no interruption to the energy that heats homes, cooks food, powers industry, and keeps people mobile and connected. Shutting down Line 5 would lead to a serious disruption of the energy market, with potential job losses and higher energy costs.

“We don’t understand the state’s position to ignore offers we have made respecting shortening the tunnel time-line, further enhancing the interim safety of Line 5 while the tunnel is being built, and providing the state a key role in the governance of the project,” said Jarvis. “In our opinion—and that of many others—[the state’s approach] is likely to result in significant disruption of the state’s energy market and potential job losses for Michigan residents.”

Propane Autogas Hybrid Taxis Featured In New PERC Video

WASHINGTON (July 31, 2019) — The Propane Education & Research Council has added a video to its popular Straight Talk series about a first-of-its-kind taxi fleet using a combination of dedicated propane autogas and propane autogas hybrid vehicles to remove thousands of tons of emissions from the local environment. Yellow Checker Star Transportation in Las Vegas operates nearly 600 dedicated propane autogas vehicles and 300 propane autogas hybrid taxis.

New Hybrid Propane Autogas Taxis in Las Vegas Featured in new Propane Education & Research Council Video “We’ve worked with Yellow Checker Star for many years and the cost savings and environmental benefits they have seen with propane autogas is tremendous,” said Michael Taylor, director of autogas business development at PERC. “Fleet owners who watch this Straight Talk video will hear real-world results directly from the Yellow Checker Star team about the company’s success with propane autogas, and hopefully learn what it could be like for their own fleet by switching to this proven, clean alternative fuel.”
 
The Propane Council’s popular Straight Talk series is a free online library of more than 25 testimonial videos showcasing how a variety of commercial and public fleets are using propane autogas to reduce emissions, save money, and improve operations.
 
For more than 30 years, Yellow Checker Star’s taxi fleet has used propane autogas because of its low fuel and maintenance costs. In 2016, the fleet made the decision to start experimenting with propane autogas hybrids and now one-third of the fleet has transitioned to this viable fuel solution. Yellow Checker Star is the first taxi fleet in the nation to operate with propane autogas hybrid vehicles. The company estimates through the use of propane autogas, the fleet saves the Las Vegas Valley over 800 tons of carbon monoxide and 800 tons of particulate matter every year.
 
Just like Yellow Checker Star, any fleet regardless of its size or location can easily transition to propane autogas. View the new Straight Talk video and visit Propane.com/Fleet-Vehicles to learn more.
 
About PERC: The Propane Education & Research Council is a nonprofit that provides leading propane safety and training programs and invests in research and development of new propane-powered technologies. PERC is operated and funded by the propane industry. For more information, visit Propane.com.
 

South Carolina Invests $9 Million In Clean, Propane School Buses, Public Transit

COLUMBIA, S.C., (July 31, 2019) — Governor Henry McMaster, joined by S.C. Superintendent of Education, Molly Spearman, and S.C. Department of Insurance (SCDOI) Director Ray Farmer, announced that the first round of funding from the state’s share of the Volkswagen Settlement Fund will be used to invest in new, propane-powered school buses to replace aging buses at the South Carolina Department of Education, and to invest in clean energy public transportation in the Lowcountry and in the City of Anderson.
South Carolina Invests 9 Million In VW Funds For Clean Propane Autogas School Buses Transits BPN 073119
“This is a good day for South Carolina and a good day for our team,” said Gov. Henry McMaster. “I want to thank Superintendent Spearman for submitting this proposal and making sure this money goes towards getting the new buses that our students need. I also want to thank Director Farmer and his team for doing the work necessary to determine that this is the best use of these funds for our students and the people of South Carolina.”

“I’ve had the pleasure of serving alongside Governor McMaster and the South Carolina General Assembly, and we’ve all been committed to improving South Carolina’s school bus fleet,” said Superintendent Molly Spearman. “Today is an exciting day – I am so thankful that the Department of Insurance has seen the need and has supported us in this effort.”

In June of 2017, Governor McMaster designated SCDOI as the lead agency in determining how the state’s share of the Volkswagen Settlement Fund, totaling $34 million, should be invested. Under the settlement terms, the lead agency must administer and develop a written Beneficiary Mitigation Plan explaining how the funds will be used within our state to reduce emissions and seek public input for the use of funds.

“While these initial funds are a great step, our work on the project is only beginning,” said Director Ray Farmer.

After a public comment period, SCDOI partially funded three of eight total applications. The award recipients were as follows:

SC Department of Education:
• 78 Thomas Built propane school buses
◦ Lexington District 1 (22 buses)
◦ Horry County Schools (20 buses)
◦ Richland District 2 (18 buses)
◦ Beaufort County Schools (18 buses)
• Award amount: Up to $7,872,618.00 
• Total project costs: $7,872,618.00

• SCDOE will provide funding from the following sources:
◦ *Revenues from scrappage of buses to be replaced will be allocated toward project costs

Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments:
• 2 Proterra electric transit buses + charging stations will be purchased for CARTA
• Award amount: Up to $1,386,950.40 
• Total project costs: $1,733,688.00
• BCDCOG will provide funding from the following sources:
◦ 20% of total project costs will be funded through Charleston County sales tax ($346,737.60)
◦ Revenues from scrappage of buses to be replaced will be allocated toward project costs

City of Anderson:
• 1 ElDorado National Axess compressed natural gas transit bus
• Award amount: Up to $73,568.55 
• Total project costs: $490,457.00
• The City of Anderson will provide funding from the following sources:
◦ 85% of total project costs will be funded through a federal grant ($416,888.45)
◦ Revenues from scrappage of buses to be replaced will be allocated toward project costs

For more information on the Volkswagen Settlement Fund, visit doi.sc.gov/vwsettlement. For video of the event, visit the governor’s YouTube page.