Propane Landscape in Oregon
Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) infrastructure is available and growing. This industry has new products, such as vehicles and conversion kits, and the margin between traditional petroleum products and propane has created new interest. The state recently had a new autogas station open this year to add to the five already here. The AFDC Alternative Fuel locator shows 51 sites in Oregon selling LPG, this is an increase of 20 new stations in 2015. These are sites recognized as stations that will sell to vehicles, however, there are many other sites that sell LPG but do not want to bother with vehicles as they perceive a burden due to highway tax requirements. House Bill 4131 was passed in the 2014 legislative session that makes the process of paying state highway taxes easier for alt fuel vehicle owners and makes it easy for fuel providers to distinguish pre-paid highway tax alt fuel users from alt fuel users that have to report on their fuel use to ODOT. The new law gives natural gas and propane users the option for paying their fuel tax annually based on an equation which uses weight of the vehicle as a determining factor on how much to pay. The emblem identifies the vehicle as tax exempt at the pump. This law took effect July 15, 2015. We have seen several fleets throughout the state implementing the new emblem law, however the challenge is educating the station owners about the details of this new program. CWCCC and ODOT plan to host a workshop for alternative fuel fleets & fuel station owners in the state of Oregon regarding how this new program works.
This past year several fleets have purchased LPG vehicles and fueling. Fleets that bought vehicles include, Benton County, Polk County, Franz Bakery, and Jackson County. Oregon has experienced increased interest for LPG from school fleets. School districts, using LPG include Forrest Grove, Monmouth, Prineville, Portland and Hillsboro. Many fleets have expressed renewed interest in this fuel based on its low infrastructure price and conversion price. Return on investment is reasonably fast without incentives and the fuel is available in most of Oregon. Additionally, most of the conversion systems allow for bi-fuel use which alleviates range anxiety. When the expense of converting to CNG and EV are too high for a fleet, LPG can be good alternative.
Senate Bill 583 was passed that will add alternative fuel vehicles to the infrastructure incentive program starting January 1, 2015. It is hoped that this program will further the interest in converting fleets. We have already seen an increase of fleets taking advantage of this new program and hope that the trend continues. Some of the fleets that are looking into both of the vehicle and infrastructure programs include: the City of Newberg, City of Beaverton, Lane County, City of Eugene, University of Oregon and Philomath School District.
CWCCC worked with the Oregon Department of Energy to host and present at four regional workshops this year to introduce these programs to primarily public fleets. In the 2014 legislative session bills were passed that will allow the Revolving Loan Fund Program to include private entities in the Portland and Medford air sheds.
CWCCC Work in this Area:
The CWCCC has proposed a partnership with industry leaders to help identify solutions for this ongoing challenge. Some of the ideals include:
- Updated Propane Autogas station locator.
- Visible Propane Autogas advertising at stations and businesses where it is being dispensed.
- Educating station owners & their employees about Propane Autogas vs. LPG.
- Propane Autogas workshops throughout the state that highlight the technology, ROI, incentives, vehicle applications and safety.
- The state decal program for alternative fuel vehicles that includes Propane Autogas.
- Current grant and incentive programs.
The propane industry needs to continue to differentiate LPG and autogas sales. By increasing autogas fueling stations and keeping a competitive price on this transportation fuel the propane industry can build demand which will in turn allow them to sell at competitive prices. Many of the public and fleet personnel have the perception of propane price as that seen at low volume stations designed to fill small canisters. More work needs to be done to make people aware of the two different commodities.