Montana School District Chooses Propane Buses For Cost-Savings and Emission Reductions

COLUMBIA FALLS, Mont. (September 17, 2019) — When Columbia Falls School District Six began school last month, it joined over 900 other school districts across the nation transporting students in clean-operating, economical propane school buses.

School Bus Bluebird kids cardinalbussalesThe district purchased three Blue Bird Vision Propane buses after researching various alternative fuels, including electric and compressed natural gas. “Our school board concluded that propane was the best price and fit for our needs,” said Steve Bradshaw, superintendent of Columbia Falls School District Six. “We are a cost-conscious community, and saving taxpayer dollars while reducing emissions is a priority for our school district.”
Nearby Browning Public Schools has operated propane school buses with success for five years.
On average, propane autogas costs about 50 percent less than diesel fuel. Columbia Falls school district pays $1.08 for propane compared with $2.89 for diesel, a savings of over 60 percent. The district also will reduce its maintenance expenses since propane buses do not require costly and complex after-treatment systems required for diesel buses.

In addition, the propane buses will help clear the air around its students and the community. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), exposure to nitrogen oxides (NOx) exhaust can trigger health problems like asthma, bronchitis and other respiratory issues. Propane naturally emits 96 percent fewer NOx emissions than diesel. The domestically produced alternative fuel also emits less greenhouse gases, smog-producing hydrocarbons, and particulate emissions compared to conventional fuels.
“Columbia Falls School District Six will experience noticeable cost and emissions savings with its new propane-powered buses,” said Ryan Zic, vice president of school bus sales for ROUSH CleanTech, the propane fuel system manufacturer. “The district’s drivers will also enjoy how quiet they are, allowing them to focus on the students and the road ahead.” Buses fueled by propane autogas reduce noise levels by producing less sound, resulting in about 50 percent less noise.
The district needed a plan to fuel the buses, but did not have space on its property to install infrastructure. The district signed a fueling contract with CityServiceValcon that built a propane fuel station near the school at no charge to the school district. The propane provider also trained the district’s bus drivers on fueling, which is as fast and simple to fuel as diesel buses.
“Montana winters can be brutal. With propane buses, there is no need to delay or close school in extreme temperatures because they start up and operate reliably in cold weather — up to negative 40 degrees,” said Zic.
About Columbia Falls School District Six: School District Six covers a large area of northern Flathead County in Montana, south of Glacier National Park. The district has about 2,400 students in two elementary schools, one junior high school and one high school. Its mission is to provide a quality education through shared responsibility in a safe supportive environment for all students to meet the challenges of a global society. Visit for more information.
About ROUSH CleanTech: ROUSH CleanTech, an industry leader of alternative fuel vehicle technology, is a division of Roush Enterprises based in Livonia, Michigan. ROUSH CleanTech designs, engineers, manufactures and installs propane autogas and electric fuel system technology for medium-duty Ford commercial vehicles and school buses, and compressed natural gas fuel systems for school buses. As a Ford QVM-certified alternative fuel vehicle manufacturer, ROUSH CleanTech delivers economical, clean and domestically produced fueling options for fleets across North America. Learn more at or by calling 800.59.ROUSH.

Propane Retailers Juggling Flood Recovery With Winter Prep

(September 16, 2019) — Following a spring and summer of flooding and recovery efforts, retailers in the Midwest have begun adding winter preparation into their already hectic days and weeks. “We wish we could control the weather, but we can’t,” said Paul Harris, fuel division manager at Ray-Carroll Cooperative, which has 10 locations in northwest Missouri. “We can only focus on recovering from the current situation, learning from it, and being as prepared as possible for future challenges.”
Floods Affecting Propane Grain Drying  with delays reports Butane Propane News the propane industry's leading source for news and info since 1939. Sept 2019
In the July issue, BPN covered the flooding in Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Arkansas that began in March and continued to cause problems well into the summer as levees failed and rivers suddenly rerouted themselves through fields and everything else in their new path. In mid-June, serious damage from additional flooding continued and Interstate 29 from Omaha to St. Joseph, Mo., which had been reopened, then closed once again for a short period.

For Ray Collins, propane safety director for Sapp Bros. Petroleum (Omaha, Neb.), the relentless flooding meant more and more recovery efforts for the propane operation. While additional roads had opened as of early August, there were some that remained impassible, including roads in and out of the Sapp Bros. Hamburg, Iowa, location. “We are fortunate that we can take care of customers using propane from other locations,” Collins said. “The Hamburg propane storage location might have been in worse shape from continued flooding if it were not for area farmers who built a stronger levee themselves on private property.”

Meanwhile, Sapp Bros. has also been dealing with its travel center near Hamburg, which flooded for a second time in three months in June. “A lot of recovery work was already completed when the second flood hit,” Collins explained at the end of July. “Four new feet of water ruined all of the progress there. New gas lines are having to be run. The travel center now has a target date of mid-August to reopen.” For Collins, despite all the problems, there is pride in the Sapp Bros. team and how they have handled all the situations. “Our team is working hard to restore propane service safely to homes and hopes to be caught up in the August-September timeframe,” he said. “Our techs are often jumping in and helping where needed at other locations. We definitely look forward to a return to normalcy.”
Floods Affect Propane companies in flood recovery 2019
For Ray-Carroll Cooperative, the levee breach at its Brunswick, Mo., location was the only breach to allow water to shut off access to the bulk plant. Other plants sustained damage due to breaches, including limited access caused by road closures. “The water receded and we are working hard to reset tanks, test systems, and have customers prepared for winter,” said Ray-Carroll’s assistant petroleum manager, Dean McFatrich.

For Mike Root, an inspector for the Missouri Propane Safety Commission, a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) mission assignment requested some propane expertise and he was asked to help. FEMA required the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to eliminate the safety risk caused by 364 containers that held a wide variety of hazardous materials. The containers were found in low-

Lying areas in Missouri’s Holt County, where water remained high following numerous levee breaches, some as much as a half-mile long, when rivers simply rerouted onto flat land. These materials included used oil, herbicide, diesel, gasoline, fertilizer, and propane. Of the 364 containers, only 25 were propane tanks. Most of the propane tanks were 500- and 1000-gal. tanks, however, there were a few forklift cylinders and 20-lb cylinders.

“The Missouri Propane Safety Commission agreed to help advise and assist with the processing of the propane tanks,” said Root, who covers the area of northwest Missouri. “The DNR and EPA contracted with a Louisiana company that brought in airboats to navigate the water.” Root explained the airboats were ideal for navigating waters crossing over fallen trees and other debris. In most cases, the tanks were processed but then left to be retrieved later when the water had receded sufficiently. The tanks were marked and secured with a chain or rope. In many cases, there was evidence that someone had tried to secure the various propane tanks that got away, according to Root. He said the majority appeared to be old, privately-owned tanks.

State government leaders in Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas blame the U.S. Corps of Engineers for placing too much emphasis on habitat management and not enough on flood control. Governors of these states are demanding more control over management of the Missouri River System. Farmers whose land was severely flooded are part of a lawsuit that claims flood control is taking a back seat to slowing the river and restoring habitats that protect the endangered Pallid Sturgeon and shorebirds such as the Piping Plover and Interior Least Tern. The Corps claims it works to balance all priorities and that the excess water came from record rains and melting snow that flowed over frozen ground and directly into the river downstream of its dams.

In July, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson signed an executive order establishing Missouri’s Flood Recovery Advisory Working Group. “Missouri has been plagued by record-level flooding this year. More than 80 levees have overtopped or breached,” Parson said. “The impact of flooding on our citizens and communities has been devastating, costing millions of dollars in property damage. This working group will play a key role in establishing Missouri’s path forward to rebuilding infrastructure, revitalizing damaged farm ground, and refocusing our flood-control priorities.” An initial report to Gov. Parson is to be submitted by Dec. 31 and a final report is due May 31, 2020.
Floods cause major problems for propane retailers salvaging LPG tanks reports BPN the propane industry's leading source for news and info since 1939 sept 2019
“In many areas, we are just now seeing the full extent of flood damage for the first time as water recedes,” said Greg Noll, executive director of the Propane Marketers Association of Kansas (PMAK). “Other areas remain underwater. The damage is unbelievable. Levees are holding water on the wrong side; backup water has been so severe it has caused more damage than flood waters; entire roads are gone; and once-prime farmland is now replaced by sand. There will be a lot of discussion at government levels about how we move forward as a state.”

In looking ahead to the coming winter season, Noll’s advice to association members is the same as it was during the winter of 2013-2014 when there was a huge propane shortage: “Plan for the worst and hope for the best!” He believes that based on late planting this year, November and December could be big dryer months, so marketers shouldn’t get caught in a position where they cannot supply enough gas.

In Iowa, the state association’s CEO Deb Grooms commented that a recent board meeting included an update on crops in all sections of the state. In short, every region reported the likelihood of a strong crop-drying year due to late planting. Sapp Bros.’ Collins and Ray-Carroll’s McFatrich concurred with Grooms and Noll on the possibilities for a higher-than-average level of late crop drying this year.

As for damage control from future flooding, for retailers it is all about securing tanks and other assets so they don’t float away. “Securing is cheap compared to going out and finding lost assets,” McFatrich said. “We’ve left augers in place for securing assets, in many cases, so that is one step we won’t have to do again.” Like many companies with assets still underwater, there will still be repairs, resets, and regulators to change out ahead of this season.

While McFatrich agrees with Harris that retailers can’t control Mother Nature, he is much more aware of weather situations he should be monitoring that could cause problems weeks and months later. “We are affected more by snowfall and rainfall levels months earlier and hundreds of miles north of us in Minnesota and the Dakotas than we are by current, local snowfall or rainfall. We need to be watching in advance what could soon be causing excess water to flow our way from the north!” — Pat Thornton

Dead River Propane Collects Tons Of Food For Hungry Children

BOW, NH (September 13, 2019) — FORD dealers throughout the state of New Hampshire and New England teamed up with the manufacturing company as well as the New Hampshire Food Bank and Dead River Propane Company to help feed hungry children in the state. Ford dealers in New Hampshire, including Grappone Ford in Bow, Monadnock Ford of Swanzey, Hampton Ford, McFarland Ford in Exeter, and Autofair Ford in Manchester, and participating companies, spent many weeks during the summer collecting peanut butter and non-perishables for economically disadvantaged children as part of the FORD Focus On Child Hunger drive. Additionally, Dead River Company, a propane retailer with locations around the state, also collected peanut butter at its Manchester, Bristol, Plymouth and New London offices, a tradition the company has been committed to for years.
Dead River Propane helps collect 5 tons of food for hungry children in new hampshire reports BPN the propane industry's leading source for news and information since 1939 sept 2019
The companies collected a total of 10,542 pounds of peanut butter and peanut butter alternatives, more than twice what was collected in the previous year’s food drive.

Eileen Liponis, the executive director of the New Hampshire Food Bank, thanked the participating companies and their customers for helping to provide more than five tons of peanut butter to hungry children in the state.

"The success of this FORD Focus on Child Hunger Peanut Butter Drive is a tremendous example of the impact businesses and the public can have on fighting hunger in New Hampshire," she said. "We cannot thank the Ford Fund enough for this incredible support."

Tom Bouchard, the business development manager for FORD Motor Credit Company, said that the fund and dealers were "gratified by the success" of the program that was making a positive impact in the state.

In 2013, Robert Moore, former president and CEO of Dead River Company, was awarded the JoAnn Pike Humanitarian Award, given by the Good Shepherd Food Bank. That same year, Moore was awarded the Distinguished Citizen Award by the Pine Tree Council of the Boy Scouts of America. In 2015, Junior Achievement of Maine elected Moore to the Maine Business Hall of Fame. Giving back to its community has been a long-honored tradition at Dead River Company.

(Courtesy photo )

Sen. Manchin Questions Officials About Appalachian Storage

(September 11, 2019) — U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has closely questioned details of an $83-billion Chinese investment in his state. Manchin, a supporter of a proposed Appalachian NGL storage hub, expressed his concerns during a committee hearing to examine the importance of energy innovation to economic growth and competitiveness. Heard was testimony from Brian Anderson, director of the National Energy Technology Labora- tory and John Deskins, director of the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at West Virginia University.
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee defends USA propane supply from Chinese investors reports BPN the propane industry's leading source for news and information since 1939
The senator expressed his growing concern over the lack of transparency surrounding the Chinese investment in West Virginia’s energy sector under a memorandum of understanding (MOU). Manchin observed that the significant $83-billion investment is welcome “if it’s for capital expenditure.” As a point of comparison, he noted that his state’s entire budget is roughly $4 billion a year. However, he asserted the intent of the MOU remains unclear.

“If it’s for removing resources such as ethane, propane, butane, and making a commitment of taking all of our wet gas, which we use as a building block to reinvigorate our petrochemical base, then I would hope for the officials in my state of West Virginia, that is a nonstarter. We will do everything we can to prevent that from happening.” He added, “Bring your investments for capital improvements and capital expenditures; don’t bring your investments to try to think you’re going to rob us of our natural resources.”

Queried by Manchin about what development of an NGL storage hub and petrochemical revitalization could mean for West Virginia and the region, Deskins observed that while the ongoing surge in raw natural gas production in the state has been remarkable and beneficial, the number of jobs created is not close to offsetting jobs lost in the coal industry. Exporting raw natural gas to other states affords benefits, “but it’s not a transformative opportunity for West Virginia, it’s not going to allow us to achieve the prosperity we’ve been hoping for over the long run,” he said.

Deskins emphasized that an NGL storage hub is just part of the process, but keeping gas in West Virginia for use in chemicals and plastics production, and other types of manufacturing, would yield value-added benefits by the export of more valuable products. “To the extent that we can really achieve our full potential, and see the value-added manufacturing that could take place in West Virginia, can be a completely different and transformative experience for a state to bring in tens of thousands of high-paying jobs that could make a real difference,” he said.

West Virginia officials see the state’s vast natural gas reserves as providing a path for renewed economic prosperity for the Mountain State. Envisioned is a hub rivaling the Gulf Coast as a center for processing natural gas and producing plastics. Top officials have lined up behind a plan to spend as much as $10 billion to develop a mammoth underground storage to hold natural gas liquids used in manufacturing.

By providing a sizeable storage hub for ethane and other NGLs, proponents say the move would encourage the expansion of a chemical production corridor that is emerging along the upper Ohio River and bring thousands of good-paying jobs to the region. At the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing, Manchin noted that “the petrochemical industry along the Ohio River and up the Kanawha River…has been strategic for our country since World War II. It’s a shell of what it used to be, so we have the ability to grow within that same footprint and it’s not being utilized.”

Taking Responsibility Is Priority In Propane Industry

by Richard Fredenburg…  

We all know that life is full of responsibilities. As adults, there are aspects to our personal and professional lives that nobody else can or will take over. Some are major and some are minor, but they still fall on our shoulders.
Richard FREDENBURG LP-gas engineer at North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services advises propane professionals on safety issues reports Butane-Propane News the propane industry's leading source for news and information since 1939
I remember in my youth that my parents got me out of bed for school and church. Then they decided I could take on that responsibility and they bought me an alarm clock. They eased me into it for a while, making sure that I was up. Then they left it to me, even if it meant that I might have to miss breakfast or be late. It was a training process. It’s a responsibility that continues to this day. Some days getting myself up on time takes on more urgency, as not getting up may make me miss a plane or fail to get to the hospital for an early-morning procedure.

Many things factor into how we prioritize our responsibilities. Certain responsibilities demand the highest priority, particularly when it comes to safety. For example, staying on the right side of the road when driving would be of the highest priority, not only for my own safety, but for the safety of loved ones and others on the road. Not paying or being late on bills is not as critical, but it can have a long-term negative effect on my quality of life.

The wide variety of responsibilities we face each day is mind-boggling. Sometimes we have to prioritize them for importance and the time it takes to complete them. Consider this very limited listing:

• Deciding how we will nourish our bodies.
• Stopping for that yellow light or running it.
• Locking the front door when we leave while there are still people asleep inside.
• Taking time to examine so many things about this cylinder and remove the sleeve before filling it.
• Watching out for myself on my walk because I can’t depend on the drivers to watch out for me.
• Wearing the protective gear the league requires before playing this game.
• So many more!

As a propane retailer, you have certain legal responsibilities with respect to code requirements and how your actions may affect employees, customers, and the general public.

At a recent meeting of the North Carolina Propane Gas Association, I shared that the number of meter-seal violations took a dramatic upswing this year. Where the monthly rate had been 13 in 2017 and 9.9 in 2018, this year’s rate in the first three months is 26.3. More than double! Dealers are not taking the responsibility for ensuring their truck and dispenser meter seals are secure. If you want to avoid violations and penalties, you may need to assign your drivers the responsibility of checking the meter seals on their truck as part of each day’s pre-trip inspection and on a dispenser every time they fill its tank.

I’ve seen several cases where a violation and penalty were avoidable if the dealer paid attention. For example, a dealer had been penalized for not having meter seals on his dispenser out front and for some third-party dispensers he owns. When the inspector later learned that there was a metered cylinder-filling dock attached to the bulk tank out back, he wrote a violation for no seal on that meter. That violation could have been avoided by the dealer extending his experiences with other meters to that one.

Taking responsibility applies to many other situations. Deliveries and cylinder filling are major ones. The person most likely to be intimately involved in a filling incident is the one operating the truck or dispenser because they are right beside the container and at the business end of the hose. It is in their best interest to examine the container for safety before they begin filling it.

We know of instances of both portable and stationary containers taking off like rockets because the bottom blew out while they were being filled. One operator left a 100-lb cylinder laying on its side in the covered bed of a pickup truck while he filled it. He hadn’t checked the bottom of the cylinder for corrosion, and it blew out while being filled, engulfing the covered truck bed and the area around the truck with several gallons of propane that quickly turned to several cubic yards of vapor.

A driver was killed because the soil under the blocks of a 1000-gal. tank had eroded and the tank came down the hill when the extra weight of the fuel was added. If he had checked the stability of the tank or approached it from above rather than below, he would likely still be with us.

The person doing the filling also takes on some responsibility for customer safety for at least a while. Errors made while filling a cylinder or preparing it for transportation can be life-threatening for the customer. Will the employee take the time to insist on securing the cylinder in an upright position rather than allowing the customer to lay it down in the trunk? The employees must care enough to take their responsibilities seriously.

From a business perspective, it is important to always keep the customer in mind when it comes to all safety measures. After one of our inspectors corrected an employee after observing violations when filling a cylinder, he was told, “If I’d known there was going to be a test, I would have paid more attention.” I challenge you to consider if this is the attitude of a caring employee taking his responsibilities seriously. Isn’t each cylinder filling a test of the operator’s knowledge of safe filling?

I received a call from a customer complaining that the propane company said it couldn’t fill the customer’s tank because recent changes to the law made the tank illegal. This caller said other customers in their neighborhood were being told the same. The company said it would relocate tanks at the customers’ expense.

I asked the customer if this company installed the tank. On confirmation that the company had, I suggested that they challenge the company about the “legality” of the initial installation and that the company should fix its installation error at company cost. I also pointed out that consumer tank installation requirements have changed very little in 20 years and that almost none of those changes are retroactive. Is this a case of the company trying to pass off financial responsibility for its improper installations to its customers?

When our new inspection database started assigning follow-up inspection dates, we encouraged those with failing inspections to correct their violations within the 30- or 60-day grace period or to request an extension when they had a justifiable reason for needing more time. Those who take the responsibility of making corrections quickly will likely pass their next inspection. Those who request an extension will likely get the extra time they need. But, they need to understand that the extension is for a limited time and they are ultimately responsible for taking corrective action. If they shirk that responsibility, they may be inspected before they are ready, and that could end up costing them money.

New employees will not be able to take responsibility for various duties until they are trained. Then you will probably make additional assignments as their training and experience allow them to take on more responsibility. We hope you will continue to instill in them a sense of responsibility to do the right things for their own safety as well as that of your customers.

Richard Fredenburg is LP-gas engineer at the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.