Schools Saving with Autogas

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AUSTIN – Texas school district fleets operating clean propane autogas buses are benefitting from the “fiscal cliff” bill, which includes the extension of expired alternative fuel tax credits. Schools already cutting costs with affordable autogas will now save even more money by recouping 50-cents-per-gallon through 2013 and retroactively to 2012.

“It’s no secret that Texas schools have struggled in the wake of the roughly $5.4 billion state budget cut to public education funding last session,” said Jackie Mason of the Propane Council of Texas. “Many switched buses to propane autogas as a way to cut costs, and these tax extensions offer additional financial relief. Districts like Dallas County Schools have already saved millions on fuel costs with autogas buses, which also significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and harmful pollutants compared to gasoline or diesel buses.”

Schools across the state have put hundreds of thousands of dollars each year back into their budget with alternative fuel tax credits, in addition to the thousands saved on fuel costs. There are 2,078 propane-powered buses operating in 75 Texas school districts, according to the Railroad Commission of Texas.

The largest propane-powered school bus fleet in Texas, Dallas County Schools saves about $500,000 annually with the 50-cents-per gallon tax credit. The district has utilized autogas for nearly 20 years and saves approximately $1.5 million in fuel costs each year, according to Tim Jones of Dallas County Schools administration. Northside ISD, the second-largest propane autogas bus fleet in the state with 40 percent of their buses running on autogas, saved around $225,000 with the credit from 2011. Denton ISD recouped $170,000 with the 2011 credit, on top of saving $361,498 in fuel costs last year running buses on autogas instead of diesel.

“The savings we experience with the tax credits increases each year as we add more propane autogas buses to the fleet,” says Denton ISD Director of Transportation Aaron Robbins. “Over a 13-year period as we’ve grown our autogas bus fleet from five to 104 clean vehicles, we have saved a grand total of $655,652 on the tax rebates alone.”

Propane autogas is the third most widely used fuel in the world, after gasoline and diesel. U.S. autogas fleets save between 30-50 percent on fuel costs compared to gasoline or diesel, and autogas is also a cleaner burning fuel. With 98 percent of the U.S. autogas supply made in America, autogas-powered fleets support national energy security by utilizing a domestically produced transportation fuel.

The Austin, Houston and Arlington Independent School Districts recently received installation of new propane autogas fueling infrastructure, and other Texas schools running buses on autogas include Alvin ISD, Conroe ISD, Eanes ISD, Leander ISD, Prosper ISD and many more. In addition to school bus fleets, propane autogas is ideal for all types of light- and medium-duty vehicles. Fleets across the country such as law enforcement, pest control services, lawn care services, limousines and taxi cabs are saving money on fuel costs and improving the air quality in their local communities with autogas vehicles.

“Propane autogas is dependable and cheaper than gasoline or diesel. Plus, autogas vehicles and fueling stations are less expensive than other alternative fuels,” said Mason. “For example, it’s possible to install 10 propane autogas fueling stations for the price of one compressed natural gas station. When you’re a fleet already working on a tight budget, those savings can mean the difference between switching to alternative fuel or not.”

The alternative fuel tax credit of 50 cents per gge (gasoline gallon equivalent) is extended through December 31, 2013, and retroactive to 2012. Some taxable fleets can also take advantage of another tax credit extension for alternative fuel refueling property through the IRS. The state of Texas also periodically provides clean refueling property grants for school districts and government fleets.

About the Propane Council of Texas
The Propane Council of Texas (ProCOT) is a non-profit 501 (c) 3 dedicated to educating the public and the propane industry on safety and on the newest clean-burning propane technologies. ProCOT is the state entity that represents the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC), which was authorized by the U.S. Congress with the passage of the Propane Education and Research Act (PERA) of 1996. The program is funded with check-off funds from the propane industry and goes to fund several safety programs as well as research and development projects. Visit www.procot.org for more information.