Fill it up... with propane? - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Fill it up... with propane?

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As gasoline and diesel fuel prices skyrocket, more South Georgians are looking at alternative fuel choices.  One that is becoming more popular is propane.

You might not even notice them, but there are many propane-powered trucks on South Georgia roads already. If gas prices keep rising, they could become even more popular.

Transpower is Albany's only dealership that sells trucks built to run off propane, and they can convert vehicles to run off alternative fuels. And as the cost of gas keeps going up, they expect more businesses to switch to propane.

Since 2010 Merry Acres Landscaping has been using lawn mowers and trucks fueled with propane. Merry Acres Landscaping owner Jon Dozier said, "The more gas keeps going up, the smarter it makes us look."

Dozier estimates he is saving about 40% on fuel costs on propane powered vehicles over gasoline.  "When you look at a business with your largest expense is fuel, like ours. It's a number's game. It doesn't take a whole lot of arithmetic to figure out if you are going to save 40% on your biggest expense, it's a pretty smart move," Dozier said.

Modern Gas sells propane, and uses it to power their trucks.  "Currently, auto gas is running around $2.10 a gallon, somewhere in that area. About one dollar cheaper than gasoline," Modern Gas President Mark Holloway said.

Both Dozier and Holloway say they are getting lots of phone calls from businesses asking about propane powered vehicles, from other business owners worried about skyrocketing gas costs.

Transpower, which sells the trucks and handles the conversions, is also hearing from a lot of interested parties.

 "A new truck set up for both gas and propane fuel is about $7,000 more than just gas. The conversion of a vehicle is about $5,000 to $7,000. So the cost is too high for an individual with one car," said TransPower Incorporated Medium Duty Manager Jim Thompson.

"But the person that's running a fleet of vehicles everyday in constant use, it would definitely be worthwhile to look at propane as an alternative fuel," Holloway said.

And as gas prices keep going up, TransPower knows their business will too. "Modern Gas and Merry Acres Landscaping like the fact that propane also has much lower emissions than gas or diesel fuel engines," Thompson said.

Thompson said, "I'm pretty sure my phone is going to be ringing a lot more."

Just how quickly is this business growing. Today Thompson sold four natural gas powered trucks to the city of Thomasville, and many more municipalities are asking about alternative fuel vehicles. 

 Most of these trucks get about 13 miles to a gallon on propane, a little less than gas. But if the price of gas keeps rising, the gap in cost will offset that.

 

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