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Jackson County Dept. of Transportation Converting to Propane/Gas Hybrid Engines

During Mondays meeting of the Jackson County Commission, Commissioners voted unanimously to move ahead with a lease agreement to begin the process of taking several vehicles with the Jackson County Department of Transportation and begin converting them to use propane energy. The three-year lease agreement is for propane conversion equipment from Alliance Auto Gas that will convert regular gas burning engines to a duel-fuel consumption engine. Department of Transportations Chuck Norris had this to say explaining the matter; “This is not a complete conversion, this is a bi-fuel conversion where we will be able to convert and use propane and still be able to use gasoline as well”. The conversion of the propane consumption of the Department of Transportations vehicles is expected to have several cost saving benefits, the first of which is fuel prices. Currently the market price for a gallon of propane is around three dollars, which is a considerable savings compared to current market values of gasoline and diesel. Steve Whaley, a representative of Alliance Autogas gave further details on the conversion, “The price of propane in the last 24 months compared to the national price of gasoline in the last 24 months has averaged $1.50 a gallon less. Propane isn’t tied to the petroleum market anymore because of the number of shale finds of all the natural gases here in the United States. (Propane) has drifted far apart from the gasoline and diesel costs that are on an international market and where ever we get natural gas: methane, pentane, butane, and propane, all of them come out of the ground together and we segregate them so it’s not tied to gasoline prices”. Not only are fuel costs expected to go down maintenance costs are expected to drop as well. With propane being a lower carbon and cleaner burning fuel oil changes can be done less frequently and engine life is expected to rise. Overall the three-year lease agreement for equipment to convert nine vehicles is expected to cost a little over $21,000, and during that same time period the county is expected to save over $26,000 in fuel costs alone. At the end of the three-year lease agreement the county will have the option to purchase the equipment outright for the price of $1. Before critics start to say that all this sounds “too good to be true”, Mr. Norris has said that other governments in our local area have already seen similar results. Several county leaders have said that should this initial conversion project prove as successful as predicted, then other county-wide fleets could see similar upgrades in the future, including maintenance and even sheriff’s department vehicles.