The Columbia-Willamette Clean Cities Coalition hosted around 40 people for its Propane Autogas Lunch & Learn in Wilsonville, Ore.
 - Photo courtesy of Lauren Fletcher 

The Columbia-Willamette Clean Cities Coalition hosted around 40 people for its Propane Autogas Lunch & Learn in Wilsonville, Ore.

Photo courtesy of Lauren Fletcher 

Columbia-Willamette Clean Cities Coalition held a propane autogas Lunch & Learn on Oct. 10 at the World of Speed Museum in Wilsonville, Ore.

Approximately 40 people attended the meeting with speakers from Columbia-Willamette Clean Cities Coalition, SambaSafety/Vigillo, the Propane Education Research Council (PERC), Advanced Transportation Technology Center, Icom/Wolff Specialties, ROUSH CleanTech, Blue Star Gas, Oregon DEQ, the City of Vancouver, Wash., and the City of Longview, Wash. 

The meeting opened with a welcome and comments from Chris Galati, the president of the Columbia-Willamette Clean Cities Coalition. “We work hard to support Oregon and Washington fleets,” he noted.  

Digging into CSA Updates

The first session of the day was from Steve Bryan, founder and president of Vigillo, a SambaSafety company, covering a CSA and Safety Update and discussing driver risk management. 

“The CSA program is going to undergo a complete overhaul, including how truck safety is viewed moving forward,” he said. “The future of CSA is changing. The new FAST Act for CSA is coming in September of 2019.”

Bryan spent time explaining the current CSA system and some of its deficiencies, which are prompting change. He noted that the BASICs are sticking around, but all scores will be reduced to just one safety culture score. 

Learning About Propane Autogas

Much has changed in the world of propane autogas in just the past decade, with many improvements and enhancements. 

Attendees were educated about the current state of the propane industry, technology advancements, fueling options, and real-world fleet experiences. 

Greg Zilberfarb, president and CEO of TSN Communications spoke on behalf of PERC, discussed the current state of the propane autogas market. 

“Numbers are gradually increasing, mostly due to school bus sales. Of the 2017 sales, 32% were OEM, with 68% aftermarket. At the end of 2017 there were 14,744 propane autogas school buses in operation,” he said. “Blue Bird believes that next year, it will sell more propane autogas school buses than diesel buses for the first time ever.”

Next up was a discussion covering propane autogas conversions and maintenance. Bryan Schiedler with the Advanced Transportation Technology Center at Linn Benton College discussed efforts done in education on alternative fuels. Some conversions (propane autogas, compressed natural gas, and electric) are done at the facility, but its main focus is on alternative-fuel education.

Camryn Engle, Autogas coordinator of Blue Star Gas shared his insight on navigating the various system options. The company is family owned and operated since 1938 with a dedicated team of autogas specialists. The company has 65 public fueling sites and is an Alliance Autogas member. 

“We ensure operators are kept up on their training, which is our No. 1 priority with safety,” Engle said. “Propane Autogas is a safer fuel as its closed pressurized system reduces spills and unintended release, in addition to its low-cost average of $1.65 per gallon, without the rebate amounts factored in.”

The day closed with a few real-world experiences from Keith Walling, fleet and facilities maintenance manager for the City of Longview, Wash., Walling was joined by Dan Zenger, equipment services superintendent for the City of Vancouver, Wash., previously with the Longview fleet. Longview experienced a fuel savings of more than $8,600 through 14 converted vehicles, with four more on the way.

At the meeting’s conclusion, attendees took time to test-drive two propane-autogas trucks and enjoy the exhibits at the World of Speed Museum. 

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