The Southeast Propane Autogas Development Program has converted over 1,000 vehicles from gasoline to propane in the past two years. This program overseen by Virginia Clean Cities recently received commitments from nine fleet operators in the South for future propane conversions. Administrators with the program note that total conversions should exceed 1,200 vehicles after this round of commitments. The addition of propane-powered fleet vehicles throughout the American Southeast raises awareness of an energy source that creates jobs, reduces emissions and originates from American sources.
Participants in the recent round of conversions include corporate and municipal fleets throughout the Southeast. The program now features vehicles from Airport Shuttle in Baton Rouge, Community Counseling in Mississippi and Virginia Premier Health in Richmond. Municipal fleets include the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, City of Sandy Springs and the City of Carrollton Police Department in Georgia. Fleet operators will work with technicians at Alliance AutoGas during the conversion process. Blossman Gas and Virginia Clean Cities will work with four of these fleets to build refueling stations in the next year.
Virginia Clean Cities uses funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to facilitate vehicle conversions. The Southeast Propane Autogas Development Program receives $8.6 million in federal funds overseen by the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy and James Madison University. Corporate fleet operators and local governments have more than doubled this funding with a program budget in excess of $19 million. Virginia Clean Cities estimates that 90% of propane converted into autogas is drawn from American sources. The relatively small investment of the federal government allows businesses to take advantage of autogas prices about 30% lower than average gasoline prices.
The benefits of the Southeast Propane Autogas Development Program move beyond reductions in fuel costs for cash-strapped operators. The program is displacing 16,000 tons of carbon emissions and other greenhouse gases with low-emissions propane. Participants could displace at least 15.7 million gallons of fossil fuels over the next few years. Virginia Clean Cities notes that 11,119 hours of work have been used to complete conversions and fuel station construction. This demand for labor should create hundreds of jobs from Maryland to Louisiana, an example of the potential for green energy to produce permanent jobs.