Kansas City's Entire School Bus Fleet Goes Propane Saving $500K Per Year

(August 15, 2019) — The Kansas City Star reports that Kansas City Public Schools students will board brand new propane-fueled buses this month when they head back to the classroom. The entire bus fleet will operate on propane under a new contract with Student Transportation of America. The district is rolling out 155 75-passenger buses, marking the first time a school district in the metropolitan area has operated its entire transportation service on the alternative fuel.

Kansas City Public School District Purchases 155 new propane-powered Blue Bird Vision LPG altfuel School Buses reports BPN the propane industry's leading source for news and information since 1939The new propane buses “are more efficient,” Chris Walls, Kansas City Public Schools transportation director, tells the newspaper. “They are better from an emissions standpoint. They burn cleaner and they run about 30% quieter.” He added that, with propane costing about 91 cents/gal., they are also cheaper to fuel. Diesel costs about $2 a gallon in the area. “On 500,000 gallons, that’s about a $500,000 a year savings,” he says.

Walls adds that the district gets additional benefits with the propane buses. Each Bluebird Corp. bus has an automatic counter that records when and where each student enters and exits the bus. They are also equipped with Wi-Fi and have an audio system so drivers don’t have to yell when they communicate with students on the bus.

(SOURCE: The Weekly Propane Newsletter, August 12, 2019)

Reduce Liability Exposure By Implementing Proper Safety Measures

Can you recall these popular adages? “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” “It’s better to be safe than sorry.” “Safety doesn’t happen by accident.” Proverbs such as these likely resonate with the majority of propane marketers who understand the very existence of their business hinges on one critical factor—safety. Sayings like these stand the test of time because they serve as practical reminders to be careful, to play it safe, to not become complacent.
Propane liability trail attorney John Hansen provides tips to propane retailers on how to reduce liability exposure by implementing certai safety proceedures reports butane propane news 08-2019
Safety underpins everything as it relates to the overall success of a propane business. In a recent seminar, trial attorney John G. Hansen of McCoy Leavitt Laskey LLC, a national catastrophic fire and explosion law firm, pointed out how many gallons would need to be sold to cover three realistic settlement amounts. It would take 10 million gallons to cover a $2-million settlement, 11 million gallons to cover a $2.2-million settlement, and 25 million gallons to cover a $5-million settlement. Nothing will repair the damage a safety incident can cause to a business’ reputation.

When it comes to safety—there’s nothing bigger than the little things. In his seminar at the Mid-States Propane Expo & Trade Show in Olathe, Kan., Hansen led a lively legal presentation that addressed the importance of creating a work environment in which safety is the highest priority; taking proactive, preventive safety measures that involve the entire staff; and acknowledging, sharing, and rewarding best practices. These, he said, are paramount to maintaining a thriving propane business.

Hansen, who serves as regional and national counsel for several clients including the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) and the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC), prides himself on providing clients effective and efficient legal representation for 30 years, focusing primarily on defending catastrophic fire and explosion cases brought against gas suppliers and product manufacturers, and others. He has developed a particular expertise in propane cases in which he has represented retailers, wholesalers, transporters, and refineries in cases brought throughout the United States. Hansen has litigated hundreds of cases and has heard and seen firsthand how details in a case can get scrutinized under a legal microscope. He began his presentation by emphasizing the fact that no propane marketer ever wants to confront the worrisome question, “Did we do something wrong?”
Trial Attorney John Hansen role plays deposition from propane injury liabiity case to provide tips to LPG retailers to avoid accidents reports BPN 08-2019
The propane industry prides itself on its safety record and does an excellent job with safety training and certification programs, safety materials, and other resources. Marketers are well aware that all it takes is one small mistake or wrong assumption to contribute to a potential accident and legal liability.

Hansen shared (gruesome) details from various legal cases in the news to help illustrate the severity of the burn injuries caused by an accident and helped the audience grasp firsthand just how, “there is nothing worse than a burn injury.” Hansen’s engaging presentation held the audience’s attention especially during the role-play portions of depositions and court testimony. Hansen would pause to point out the areas where safety industry standards were not adhered to and offered the defense perspective with suggested actions to help avoid legal liability and the agony of worrying, “Did we do something wrong?”

Although juries are instructed to be fair and impartial, I realized after squirming through some of the injury details, it might be hard not to lean sympathetic to the pain and suffering of a burn victim. Ask yourself, when it comes to deciding between an injured plaintiff and the gas companies, who do you think jurors are more likely to identify with emotionally?

The following areas were among some of the topics addressed during Hansen’s legal presentation that provided propane marketers insight about ways to implement safety measures to help reinforce their businesses against future liability issues:

The critical role of a customer service representative (CSR) cannot be overstated when it comes to safety and accident prevention. Hansen remarked that customers expect CSRs to be knowledgeable and ready to give good advice. Many marketers, he added, still don’t train their CSRs. Hansen frequently hears comments like, “They just take calls. They don’t want to get involved. That’s not their job. You can’t expect them to know that stuff.”

Hansen ardently disagrees, stating, “There are too many examples of when an accident could have been avoided if the call had been handled differently.” He emphasized that it is crucial that customer service reps receive proper training. “CSRs are a first line of defense when it comes to fielding calls and giving advice regarding a potential safety situation. A CSR definitely should not make assumptions. It is important to remember that an employee may be required to give statements in a legal deposition or testify if a case goes to court, so it is your responsibility to arm them with all the tools they need to protect your business and represent you well.”

Hansen recalled details from the deposition of a safety manager who was questioned for eight hours under oath. He replaced some of the safety manager’s misstatements with correctly revised answers to illustrate how CSRs can be more empowered to strengthen safety efforts. Here are some of the suggestions that were discussed:
  1. Make CSRs part of the safety team. Have them attend safety meetings. Make sure they comprehend the vital role they play regarding customer and employee safety.
  2. Train CSRs so they are well informed about proper propane safety procedures and are trained to respond appropriately to customer calls.
  3. Have a prepared script for CSRs and make sure they follow it.
  4. If a CSR doesn’t know an answer, encourage them to ask questions and seek information from other professional staff members.
  5. Review proper safety materials with CSRs frequently. In a legal situation, an employee could be asked questions such as, “Have you read the PERC safety brochure? When was the last time you reviewed the safety brochure? Can you tell us what the next step is in the warning?” It’s always a best practice for employees to be up-to-date and be familiar with safety materials.

If It Wasn’t Documented, It Wasn’t Done. Customer Certification Forms, etc.
The motto of our litigious society, “If it isn’t documented, it wasn’t done,” simply cannot be stressed enough! Document, document, document. If you are ever required to go to court, you can’t prove anything was done properly unless you have the paperwork to prove it.

The majority of propane marketers in the audience agreed with Hansen that, “Every propane marketer should get a ‘New Customer Certification’ form on file that has been signed and dated by the customer stating that they received and read the PERC Propane Safety Information for You and Your Family brochure.”

Understand the Difference Between an “Interruption of Service” and An “Out-of-Gas Situation”
There have been cases where a delivery driver thought the propane tank still had pressure so a leak test was not performed. Never assume anything! If you have doubts or questions, knock on the customer’s door and ask more questions. Don’t forget to document everything!

Where in the Code is “Out of Gas” and “Interruption of Service” Defined?
One of the biggest liability issues may not be well defined. Do you know where “Out-of-Gas” situations are defined? NFPA58? NFPA54? CTEP classes? Employees should be very clear about this and knowing the difference between an Out-of-Gas situation and an Interruption of Service and how to handle each, respectively.

5% Rule
No matter what, in the event that a propane tank gauge reads 5% or lower, always perform a leak test and always document it!

As you know, propane marketers have a duty-to-warn obligation to provide customers with the information they need to safely and comfortably enjoy all the benefits that propane can deliver. Typically, a PERC Propane Safety or Propane Safety Information for You and Your Family brochure is mailed to every customer annually, often by a third-party vendor that provides certification of service. The business should receive the mailing at its business mailing address. The unopened envelope should be kept on file along with the customer mailing list, U.S. postal reports, vendor, and other mailing documentation.

Here are some sample questions that might be asked during a deposition:
  1. Does your company follow the warnings in the PERC Propane Safety brochure?
  2. When was the last time employees read the PERC Propane Safety brochure? Do they know what it says?
  3. Do you provide customers with a copy of the PERC Propane Safety brochure? Can you provide documentation that a duty-to-warn mailing was sent?
  4. Have your employees heard of odor fade?
  5. Is there ever a time when people can’t smell the odor of propane gas?
  6. Do you recommend installing a combination carbon monoxide and propane gas detector?
Hansen left the audience with this parting advice, “Know that attorneys will imply to a jury that the propane company doesn’t care about safety. Now, if you are ever to encounter a situation where you must defend your business in court, you will have prepared beforehand and will be ready to provide well-documented evidence that proves your business does care and goes to great lengths to take every precaution.”

Hansen wrapped up the presentation noting the industry’s excellent safety record and the meticulous self-regulation and commitment to safety will likely put him out of business. And, he said he’d be happy if he never had to look at another burn victim photo. Maybe, he mused, “I’ll take up a more uplifting career like divorce law.”

In addition to his litigation practice, Hansen regularly consults with clients regarding safety, training, and warning issues, and proactively works with his clients to prevent accidents. He is also a frequent speaker at industry conferences focusing his presentations on practical advice designed to enhance safety. He is a past president and current board member of the Propane Gas Defense Association and has achieved the highest rating from Martindale-Hubbell (AV).

(Butane-Propane News, August 2019)

Baltimore Terminal: Designed for Speed, Convenience, Safety

(August 14, 2019) — To learn what transport drivers want from a terminal, two of the principals of Tri Gas & Oil (Federalsburg, Md.) got in a transport truck and experienced it firsthand. That paid dividends when the company decided to build a new propane bulk terminal in Baltimore for its newly launched affiliate, Mid-Atlantic Rail Services (MARS).
Tri Gas & Oil in Maryland build new propane terminal in Baltimore reports BPN the propane industry's leading source for news and information since 1939 in aug 2019 issue “We are a discerning buyer,” says Nash McMahan, president of Tri Gas & Oil. He and his father Keith McMahan, chairman and CEO of Tri Gas & Oil, spent time in the transport truck before beginning the project. Based on what they saw, he says, “We wanted to provide high-speed loading, ease of getting in and out of the facility, and a facility drivers will want to use. The drivers we are now serving say we have met those goals.”

The Baltimore terminal was commissioned in December 2018. MARS is a new corporation that houses the terminaling business, including the new terminal and an existing one. Tri Gas & Oil is a fuel wholesaler with both a wholesale division and a residential and commercial division.

“We are no stranger to rail terminals; our first one was built in 1990 and is still in operation,” McMahan says. “We determined this was the right time to bring the same model to the mid-Atlantic region to service this market.”

Superior Energy Systems (Columbia Station, Ohio), the general contractor on this project, has been busy with many projects in the region. “We have been working all along the East Coast, from South Carolina to Maine, over the last five years,” says Jim Bunsey, director of operations for Superior Energy Systems. “There have been many terminal expansions because of the demand from population growth and need.”
Tri Gas & Oil build new propane terminal in Baltimore reports Butane-Propane News the propane industry leading source for news info since 1939
Tri Gas & Oil had operated at the Baltimore location for the last three winter seasons using a transloader. About a year ago, the company’s board of directors approved moving forward with permanent infrastructure.

Today, the Baltimore terminal includes two 60,000-gal. tanks providing 120,000 gallons of HD-5 propane storage, four rail spots for off-loading, two transport truck loading stations, and one bobtail loading station.

It meets the goals the company had set before the project began. As McMahan explains, “This terminal offers high-speed loading through a fully digital operating system, easy access to major interstates, and the security of having staff onsite during all hours of operation to aid in loading transports. That takes the level of safety up.”
Tri Gas  Oil builds new Propane terminal in Baltimore reports BPN the propane industry's leading source for news and info since 1939. Aug. 2019
Double-acting compressors by Corken quickly unload and recover vapor from railcars. Turbine pumps by Flowserve provide high-speed loading of trucks. “Centrifugal turbine pumps fill quicker,” says Derek Rimko, vice president of operations for Superior Energy Systems. These pumps allow for high-speed loading rates of 550 gallons per minute. They can load a transport truck at an average rate of 18 minutes per truck. With two transport truck loading stations, the new terminal can load up to six transport trucks per hour.

Turbine pumps are an upgrade that both new and older terminals consider. “Time is money,” Bunsey says. “By upgrading to turbine pumps, terminals can meet customer needs. If customers have to drive farther but can fill quicker, they will make the drive.” Rimko adds that when an existing facility is looking to upgrade, they consider automation throughout the system; the pumps and the volume they have; and replacing antiquated piping to increase safety.

Bunsey explains that when wholesale customers are choosing a terminal, they look at the location, speed, and onsite storage capacity. “They look at how far they have to drive, how quickly they can load their transport, and, especially during peak demand months, whether there is enough propane there to service them.”

The terminal’s fully digital operating system offers a number of benefits for both the terminal company and terminal customers. “It’s a very robust electronic system,” says Donald Fernald, president and CEO at Superior Energy Systems. This GVM Integration system enables the terminal to be unmanned, so the driver can do all the inputs and outputs for the loads. The inputs include the driver number, so the system can tell if the driver has been trained, and information about the truck, so the system knows how many gallons the truck can take. The system also allows the terminal owner to allocate loads to certain customers, so the owner can determine how many loads or how many gallons a customer can get. Lastly, the digital operating system saves the information about each transaction and forwards it to the terminal’s office for billing.

Fernald added that the Baltimore terminal also features a remote inventory control system, which enables Tri Gas & Oil to monitor how many gallons are in the tanks, and a Dräger flame and gas detection system, which is outside code requirements.

Tri Gas & Oil’s Baltimore terminal is served by Norfolk Southern and CSXT railroads. Switching and operations are provided by Canton Railroad, a Class III switching and terminal railroad in Baltimore County.
Tri Gas & Oil Builds new Propane Terminal in Baltimore reports BPN propane industry leading source for news info since 1939“We have the opportunity for servicing outside normal business hours,” McMahan says. “The hours are now Monday through Friday, but if we need additional switches, Canton Railroad has committed to make that happen for us.”

MARS is the newest addition to the Tri Gas & Oil family of companies. The wholesale division of Tri Gas & Oil offers fuel delivery, risk management, supply physical and financial hedges, fixed pricing, spot contracting, index, and swaps/options. The residential and commercial division of Tri Gas & Oil serves the eastern and western shores of Maryland and Delaware and surrounding areas. It provides propane, heating oil, petroleum-based fuels, and propane appliances to area homes and commercial businesses.

“Tri Gas & Oil is a vertically oriented company,” McMahan says. “We have a very wide range of offerings. We’re in the retail business, we’re in the wholesale business, we’re in the transportation business, and we’re in the terminaling business.

“Tri Gas & Oil can offer you the physical gallon; MARS can offer terminaling of our railcar or yours; and Tri-Trucking can give you a delivered product,” he adds. “All three can be done with one sole source.”

The new terminal is located just north of the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel, off of Interstate 95 or Interstate 895.

FREE Missouri VW Settlement Funding Workshop

KANSAS CITY, MO (August 12, 2019)  — The next round of funding from the Missouri VW Settlement is now open and the state is accepting grant applications in two categories. The Metropolitan Energy Center (MEC) wants to help your company or municipality apply for this outstanding funding opportunity. A free workshop will be held Friday, August 16th, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. at Project Living Proof, 917 Cleaver II Boulevard in Kansas City, Missouri.
VW settlement workshop aug. 16 in KCMO at Metropolitan Clean Energy Center to help propane autogas fleets get VW funding from mitigation settlement reports BPN
County and city governments are invited to apply to repower or replace Class 4-8 diesel trucks and can receive up to 75% of associated costs. Private- and public-sector bus fleets are also encouraged to apply for funding to replace or repower diesel transit and shuttle buses. Reimbursement will range from 25-75%, depending on ownership and replacement.

The MEC and Missouri Department of Natural Resources staff will be on hand to help your department or business learn the essentials of the program, answer your questions, and explain why propane autogas fleets applying from Jackson, Clay and Platte Counties will have a special advantage when applying for government truck funding.

Click http://bit.ly/31Apng8 to register for this FREE Missouri Volkswagen Settlement Funding Workshop.
Free parking for this event is available at the Anita B. Gorman Discovery Center at 4750 Troost. Project Living Proof is the first house immediately north of the parking lot.

The current funding round closes August 31, 2019.

Propane Fleet Honored For Clean Air Leadership

(August 12, 2019) — When the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS; San Diego, Calif.) looked at alternative fuels to find a replacement for gasoline in its paratransit buses and minibuses, it determined that propane autogas provided the tank capacity and range those vehicles require.

Advanced Clean Transportattion (ACT) Expo 2019 awards propane as clean fuel and zero-emissions autogas fuel of choice for fleet vehicles reports BPN the propane industry's leading source of news and info since 1939.Today, nearly three years after it began transitioning those fleets to propane,
MTS has found that the propane buses also operate cleaner and more economically.

“These buses are doing a lot for the environment in San Diego and Southern California,” Jay Washburn, manager of paratransit and minibus at MTS, told BPN. “They also allow us to be a good steward of taxpayer dollars by reducing costs.”

MTS was honored at the recent Advanced Clean Transportation (ACT) Expo with a Fleet Award that recognizes fleets that demonstrate leadership in clean transportation.

The agency began transitioning its paratransit buses and minibuses from gasoline to propane in fall 2016. As each gasoline bus comes to the end of its lifecycle, MTS replaces it with a new propane bus.

As of now, 107 of the agency’s 167 paratransit buses and 31 of its 37 minibuses are powered by propane. The propane versions of both buses came with a Ford 6.8L V10 gasoline engine and were converted to propane autogas by ROUSH CleanTech.

Washburn joined MTS in the summer of 2016. The decision had been made to test propane buses and he was then involved in determining whether they were a good and viable solution.

“We had to look at range, because some of these buses travel 300 miles per day,” he says. “The best tank capacity and range were provided by propane.”

Once these fleets have been fully converted, the CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced by 11 metric tons per year, per vehicle. MTS has also found that the return on investment (ROI)—the savings on fuel cost versus the purchase price of the vehicle converted to propane—was recouped in three years. The vehicles have a six-year lifecycle. This ROI is based on wet hosing and can be reduced as low as 1.9 years with onsite large bulk tank fueling.

“We also watch for any increase in the amount of maintenance required or the number of breakdowns,” Washburn says. “We haven’t seen any negative trend. The propane buses have performed well in reliability and operability. Clients like them because there is less exhaust.”

MTS started the propane conversion with wet hosing. After about a year, the agency installed a 2000-gallon tank on site for fueling. The ROI could be even better if the agency were able to have a larger tank, because it would be able to buy the fuel more economically. The amount of fuel storage allowed onsite for refueling is limited by local Fire Department regulations. “To maximize fuel cost savings, we would need a 12,000-gallon tank on site to be able to take full tanker truck loads of propane,” Washburn explained.

Staff were trained on propane autogas vehicles by ROUSH CleanTech. “ROUSH brought in personnel to train our staff and they provided online training as well,” Washburn says. “It was a smooth transition.”