PERC talks up propane at Virginia energy conference

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Propane Education & Research Council President and CEO Roy Willis told the Second Annual Governor’s Conference on Energy in Richmond, Va., that propane is expanding economic development and creating jobs in Virginia and beyond.

In a presentation called “Using Domestic Energy to Create New Jobs,” Willis explained how the propane industry’s investment in research and development has helped bring to market propane-fueled products that help Virginians cut their operating costs and curb their carbon emissions while reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil, creating American jobs and driving new demand for domestically produced propane.

“In Virginia and across the country, propane is creating innovative opportunities and increased employment,” said Willis. “For more than a decade, PERC has funded the research and development of new technology to help commercialize American-made products, such as new high-efficient point-of-use water heaters, CHP (combined heat and power) systems and on- and off-road propane engines.”

Willis said PERC’s funding for research and development affects all of the Virginia markets served by the propane industry, such as the development of agricultural applications like propane-fueled irrigation engines and high-efficiency grain dryers, which has benefited many of the commonwealth’s 47,000 farms. Beyond the farm, the funding of on- and off-road engine development has led to the availability of more than 30 propane-fueled commercial mower models and a dozen different types of vans, trucks, shuttles and buses fueled by propane autogas, he said.

In development with funding from PERC are two propane autogas applications — the Roush CleanTech Ford F-650 and the 8-liter medium-duty General Motors engine by CleanFuel USA — designed to will provide a wider range of on-road vehicles to private- and public-sector fleets. These technologies, using cost-effective environmentally friendly propane autogas, have the potential to create job opportunities for both the manufacturer and the end-user, Willis said.

Joe Thompson, president of Roush CleanTech, discussed the development of transportation technology and the many alternative-fuel product offerings for businesses, government and individuals. Thompson said that for every 100 propane autogas vehicles produced at Roush CleanTech, one new job is created at the company or in its supply chain.

The commonwealth, in an effort to reduce its dependence on foreign oil and create jobs, is seeking to replace its state-owned fleet with a domestic alternative fuel. Willis and Thompson, along with CleanFuel USA’s president, Tucker Perkins, were available at PERC’s exhibit to discuss business opportunities with decision makers.

“As a gold-level sponsor, PERC supports the conference’s primary message that energy will play an important role in the economic development, security and future prosperity of the state and the nation,” said Willis.