A green alliance
In 2012, the Unified Government first began researching ways to reduce its carbon footprint and save the community from a possible increase in fares and taxes due to rising fuel costs. After hiring an outside consulting firm to perform a cost analysis and weigh all of the alternative fuel options available, propane autogas rose to the top.
“We initially looked into alternative fuels because we wanted to green our operations,” says Merle McCullough, fleet manager. “Normally, it costs money to be green and that can be a huge issue for governments and municipalities. But after talking with our consulting firm, we discovered that we could actually save money with propane autogas.”
McCullough reports the government pays less than half the price of gasoline for propane autogas and displaced over 35,000 gallons of diesel last year, saving taxpayers more than $80,000 in fuel expenses in 2013. In turn, this helps keep rider costs down and allows the transportation system to avoid an increase in fares.
In addition, Wyandotte found that the cost of installing on-site propane autogas infrastructure was lower when compared with other alternative fuels, providing a low total cost-of-ownership and an even quicker ROI.
“Propane autogas was compact and easy to install,” McCullough says. “Because our propane provider covered some of the upfront costs and we only needed to cover electrical and concrete, we could install propane autogas infrastructure for less than $3,000. In comparison, we were looking at installing fast-fill CNG infrastructure for $1.2 million.”
Because propane autogas has similar requirements to gasoline and diesel, facilities operating within these regulations can easily accommodate propane-autogas-powered vehicles without modifications for ventilation, gas detection or electrical requirements.
“CNG required modifications to our existing facilities in order to be code-compliant and house the large equipment required for us to refuel,” McCullough says. “We didn’t have to worry about any of that with propane autogas. Propane autogas infrastructure only requires a large propane tank and no-spill low emission dispenser.”
The primary goal for Wyandotte has always been to work toward a more sustainable future.
“We were — and still are — fighting budget issues from the recession in 2008,” says McCullough. “Municipalities’ budgets are still hurting, but after discovering propane autogas, it was kind of a no-brainer. Propane autogas was the only option that allowed us to go green without breaking the bank.”
According to McCullough, propane autogas will remain part of the transportation department’s growth plan. Wyandotte currently has 10 Ford F-250 Super Duty trucks on order for its public works department and four additional transit buses coming yet this year.