A new grant from propane distributor AmeriGas offers $5000 for each new propane powered school bus purchased by a school district in the United States. The grant is available to new and existing customers of AmeriGas, and according to the fine print, it looks like the sky’s the limit in terms of the number of grant-qualifying buses a school district can buy. That means that a district could convert their entire school bus fleet to liquefied petroleum gas engines and take advantage of this grant for each individual bus purchase — an great opportunity for your bottom line and for the health and safety of our children!
Why do I want a propane powered school bus?
There are a number of compelling benefits to using propane-powered buses to take our children to and from school. According to the Alternative Fuels Data Center, some of the most significant of these are increased safety:
Compared with vehicles fueled by conventional diesel and gasoline, propane vehicles can produce lower amounts of some harmful air pollutants and greenhouse gases, depending on vehicle type, drive cycle, and engine calibration.
The potential for lower maintenance costs are one reason behind propane’s popularity for high-mileage vehicles. Propane’s high octane rating, combined with its low-carbon and low oil-contamination characteristics, has resulted in improved engine life compared to conventional gasoline engines. Because the fuel’s mixture (propane and air) is completely gaseous when entering the engine’s combustion chamber—and does not require an enriched fuel mixture for combustion such as with many liquid fuels—cold start problems can often be reduced.
…and domestic energy security:
In 2015, the United States imported almost half of the approximately 19.4 million barrels of petroleum per day it consumed and transportation accounted for nearly three-fourths of total U.S. petroleum consumption. With much of the worldwide petroleum reserves located in politically volatile countries, the United States can be vulnerable to supply disruptions.
The vast majority of propane consumed in the United States is produced here and distributed via an established infrastructure. Therefore, fueling vehicles with propane is one way to diversify U.S. transportation fuels and increase the nation’s energy security in the process.
Propane powered school bus fleets are good for your bottom line
Maybe the most compelling reason of all for converting a fleet of school buses to LPG, though, is the cost savings involved. Even without the AmeriGas grant, propane gas is on average ~40 cents cheaper per gallon than petroleum or diesel fuel. A case study on petroleum powered school bus fleets found that
fleets have saved between $400 and $3,000 per propane bus per year, with the range of savings dependent on the fuel prices and the maintenance cost savings realized. Maintenance cost savings for propane engines can potentially come from several areas, including less-frequent oil changes and less-complicated emission control systems that do not use diesel exhaust fluid.
One district in the study “estimated its annual fuel cost savings with propane to be about $330,000, or just under $3,000 per propane bus per year.” Combined with the AmeriGas grant of $5000 and the reduced costs of maintenance and repair, converting to a propane powered school bus fleet seems quite compelling.