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Tampa Bay's First Propane Fuel Event

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On February 4, 2015, the Tampa Bay Clean Cities Coalition (TBCCC) held Tampa Bay’s first ever propane fuel event.

Hosted by the City of Tampa Fleet Maintenance Facility, the learning luncheon gathered 60 TBCCC members and industry stakeholders from the public and private sectors for an informational session on propane fuel.

Daryl Stewart, Chief of Operations for the City of Tampa Department of Solid Waste & Environmental Management, and Tim Perry, City of Tampa Fleet Manager, welcomed the group.
“The City of Tampa and the Solid Waste Department believe that alternative fuels are not just cost effective for business, but also just the right thing to do,” said Stewart. “With over 137 vehicles and growing, we realized it’s time we determine our own destiny. This is why we are dedicated to our partnership with the TBCCC.”

Steve Reich,
TBCCC Coordinator, followed with general updates on the coalition. He also encouraged stakeholders to take advantage of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services offer to rebate up to 50% of the incremental cost of an original equipment manufacturer NGV or propane vehicle, or the cost of converting a vehicle to run on natural gas or propane. The program allows up to $25,000 per vehicle and $250,000 per applicant per fiscal year. Of the funds available for these rebates, 40% is reserved for government applicants and the remaining funds are allocated to commercial applicants.

Guest speakers also discussed the different aspects of propane use in business.

David Rigney, National Autogas Account Manager for AmeriGas, gave an overview of autogas, or propane vehicle fuel, detailing the physical properties, benefits, advantages, and safety considerations. He also covered the features of autogas dispensers, safety protocols, and the general process to dispense autogas.

“Refueling a propane vehicle takes about the same time as refueling a gasoline vehicle,” said Rigney. “Many people don’t know this, but propane is the only alternative fuel with fueling stations located in every state.”

“Globally, about 17 million autogas-fueled vehicles are in operation today,” he continued. “By 2020, more than 22 million vehicles globally will run on autogas. So why is autogas so popular? Well it’s safe and environmentally friendly. Propane-autogas-fueled vehicles emit significantly lower carbon content into the atmosphere than gasoline-fueled vehicles.”

Christopher Rustman, President of Florida Transportation Systems (FTS), presented on “Propane Success in Pupil Transportation”. In Florida, six school districts have already converted to propane-fueled buses. Autogas buses are seen as more cost effective, less maintenance intensive, and safer and quieter than their conventionally fueled counterparts. In addition, only propane offers the smaller school bus style that many school fleet directors prefer.

Rustman said that autogas buses are a recipe for success in Florida for many reasons, including the significant rebate offered through HB 579, easy access to local fuel infrastructure, necessary diesel fleet replacement, and the high availability of autogas buses through established purchasing outlets.

Kyle Pinsonneaulk, a CNG-Propane Tech for Precision Alternative Fuel Conversions (PAFC), spoke on “Converting Vehicles to Propane Autogas”. His presentation highlighted the ease of propane integration into existing vehicle and engine architecture. He also noted that propane infrastructure is inexpensive, portable, and easy to install and maintain.

Chelsea Jenkins, Fleet Account Manager for ROUSH CleanTech, presented “An Overview of OEM Autogas Fuel System Offerings”. She announced a limited-time opportunity for coalition members to demo a 2015 Ford F-250 pickup truck equipped with a ROUSH CleanTech propane autogas fuel system.

The program concluded with a Q&A panel on propane use featuring David Rigney, Christopher Rustman, and Tad Kledzik, Supervisor of Transportation Operations at the District School Board of Pasco County. Kledzik emphasized how well propane-fueled buses have been accepted by school bus drivers.

The Tampa Bay Clean Cities Coalition extends special thanks to the City of Tampa Fleet Maintenance Facility for hosting this event. Their gracious hospitality and outstanding facility enabled this successful, informative event.