LP Gas

How new regulations, climate-change issues will affect the propane industry

If you’ve heard of the Clean Power Plan, you might have glossed over the details to save yourself from reading about more federal government regulations. We all know the propane industry deals with its fair share.

But out of this controversial plan released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last summer comes an opportunity for propane.

The National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) created a four-page overview of the plan, describing how it pertains to the propane industry. It’s also sharing this information with your state association so its executives and leaders can proclaim propane’s benefits to state governments.

Without inundating you with too much regulatory speak, each state must develop a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants. EPA’s plan is designed to cut carbon dioxide emissions from existing plants by 32 percent below 2005 levels over the next 15 years.

The national association is asking each state association to share propane’s direct uses with state officials. Of course, those uses include heating homes and water, drying clothes and grain, and cooking, among other applications. States can work toward their emissions goals by using clean, energy-efficient propane instead of electricity, which is derived from coal and loses energy content while emanating from its source.

“It’s very clear our state associations have to be the ones to go to their air and energy regulators and say, ‘Here’s what we can do for you,’” says Jeff Petrash, vice president and general counsel at NPGA.

That industry push includes awareness about propane combined heat and power systems (CHP), which generate heat and electricity with higher efficiency and lower emissions levels than conventional methods.

Propane’s attributes as a clean, domestic, reliable and economical fuel aren’t shared often enough with policymakers and consumers, Petrash says. The Clean Power Plan provides the industry an opportunity to disseminate those messages that aren’t heard often enough and, in the process, do a little educating about propane.

Now, the EPA rule has come under attack, and some doubts remain about whether it will stand the test of time. Where the plan goes doesn’t really matter, Petrash says, because the real story here is about propane.

“Frankly, what we’re promoting here is a good idea across the board,” he says. “Americans are concerned about climate change, and this also provides an opportunity to those customers who are concerned about greenhouse gas emissions. It’s a selling point for propane. You tell them, ‘If you’re concerned about greenhouse gas emissions and climate change, swap out your electric water heater for a propane water heater and you reduce your carbon footprint.’”

New in 2016

Happy New Year. Our first edition of 2016 includes some updates and features worth mentioning.