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4 takeaways from PERC’s spring meeting

May 13, 2021 By    

If 2020 was the year of the pandemic, with impacts felt in our personal and professional lives, 2021 should be our bounce-back year, right?

Listening to propane industry leaders so far this year, there’s reason to believe brighter days are ahead.

Here are four points of discussion from the Propane Education & Research Council’s (PERC) virtual spring meeting that should focus our attention on new opportunities and other pressing issues for propane.

Propane’s environmental message

The wheels continue to turn toward an industrywide rollout of a unified environmental messaging plan.

PERC’s environmental task force has been meeting for over a year to develop the concepts, messaging and accompanying material that will communicate propane’s benefits to a variety of audiences and educate those advocating on the industry’s behalf.

“We’re repositioning ourselves as an energy source that accelerates decarbonization,” says Blossman Gas President and CEO Stuart Weidie, chair of the task force.

Project leaders cite the end of June as the target rollout of the campaign, though Weidie makes it clear “June 30 is not the end of this process.”

“I would consider it the beginning of the implementation of what has been created,” he says, teasing to “a dramatic departure” from how the industry has positioned itself in past years.

PERC is also working to unveil a new propane brand identity to coincide with the rollout. In the process, it’s resetting the roles of its agency partners and moving away from the red, white and blue eagle image and “Propane: Clean American Energy” tagline.

Positioning propane in government

The need for a fresh, provocative message by our industry about our product is evident when you hear Steve Kaminski, president and CEO of the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA), present about what’s happening in the nation’s capital.

Several pieces of proposed federal legislation related to climate and infrastructure are packed full of electrification projects and emissions goals.

“Every piece of legislation coming through the federal government has a massive climate component tied to it,” Kaminski says.

The challenging environment still may offer opportunities for the industry, such as promoting the inclusion of propane in electrification programs, “but they are heavy lifts,” he says.

Meanwhile, NPGA has pushed to protect the industry at the state level by supporting anti-gas-ban laws.

The Cummins contract

PERC leaders expected to sign a contract with Cummins soon after the April 22 council meeting. What does that mean? The industry is moving a step closer to having a 6.7-liter propane-fueled engine from an established U.S. manufacturer for on- and off-road applications.

“I expect it to be positive for the industry, to take bobtails off of diesel and move them to propane,” says Daniel Dixon of AmeriGas, the outgoing chairman of PERC. “It’s great for the ESG (environmental, social and corporate governance) story, and it will be great for the industry.”

PERC President and CEO Tucker Perkins believes the propane-fueled bobtail would be only the beginning for the versatile engine. A $12 million funding request approved by the council late last year aims to commercialize the engine by 2024.

Growth opportunities

Autogas market growth is part of PERC’s 2020-22 strategic plan, but so are commercialization efforts to create overall growth opportunities for the industry.

Councilors discussed a host of other areas ripe for development, such as agriculture, manufactured housing, material handling, power generation and water heating. Some projects are already in the works.

With all of the doubt created by COVID-19, the industry’s goals seem certain due to one underlying factor that hasn’t changed: U.S. propane supply remains abundant. Only 29 percent of the propane supplied in 2020 was used domestically, Bruce Leonard of Targa Resources shared during the meeting.

It’s time to take advantage of these dynamics to create more domestic demand. With so many forces at work in today’s energy environment, there’s little time to waste.

About the Author:

Brian Richesson is the editor in chief of LP Gas Magazine. Contact him at or 216-706-3748.

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