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LP buses fuel savings for Hall schools

Students, staff say fleet is quieter than diesel engines

POSTED: March 12, 2013 11:45 p.m.

Most people have LP fuel on their back porch or deck.

It is connected to a grill. It is where backyard chefs cook juicy steaks and barbecued ribs.

That propane fuel is what runs 20 “greener” buses for the Hall County school district, said Jewel Armour, executive director of transportation for Hall County Schools.

It is called LP fuel, or propane liquefied petroleum gas, and its use is making a big difference, not just in the environment, but in the school district’s pocketbook.

At the Monday night meeting of the Hall County Board of Education, Armour reported that more than $260,000 has been saved because of the use of LP in the specialized school buses and also purchasing fuel futures.

“A quarter of a million dollars ... that can be spent in the classrooms,” said Superintendent Will Schofield after Armour’s presentation.

Another large savings came when the school district locked in a lower price for diesel by purchasing fuel futures, Armour said.

By locking in the average diesel price of $3.22 per gallon, the transportation department was able to save $133,000 by not going on the roller-coaster ride of gas price changes, he said.

“The school district is ahead of the curve to buy fuel futures,” said Gregg Laskoski, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.com.

“It helps manage the costs for the price and the quantity, too,” he said.

To buy in advance will keep the price capped, Laskoski said.

Between August 2012 and February 2013, the cost per gallon of LP fuel averaged close to $1.50 per gallon. In comparison, diesel fuel averaged $3.20 per gallon. Because of the low LP price, the district’s transportation cost for fuel saw a savings of $123,000, said Armour.

In addition, under the Energy Policy Act of 1992, vehicle fleets receive a rebate of 50 cents per gallon for using clean fuel, which was a $27,000 bonus for Hall County Schools.

According to the Propane Education and Research Council, there are more than 270,000 on-road propane vehicles in the U.S.

“Our drivers love them,” said Armour. There are 20 LP buses in the district’s fleet; six are special needs buses and 14 are regular passenger buses.

He said the school district has a total of 300 buses and runs 225 bus routes twice a day.

“We need to continue to buy LP buses,” Armour said. He is also wishing for new large-capacity LP buses.

Armour said he and the district did a lot of research, especially in the safety aspect of the LP fuel.

“My biggest concern was ‘Is it as safe as gasoline?’” he said.

Armour said he found clean-burning buses with no emissions.

He said the students and staff also noticed how quiet the LP buses ran compared to the diesel buses.


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