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Archives reveal similarities to today’s energy environment

March 18, 2021 By    

LP Gas turns 80 this year, and to celebrate, we’re presenting a timeline of our eight decades covering the propane industry.

Our editors have gone through the archives and selected key events from both the industry’s history and that of the magazine’s. Striking to me in this process was just how familiar some of the storylines from past decades remain today.

For example, LP gas marketers consistently anticipated the next big growth opportunity or market. After World War II, the pace quickened to sell customers on the benefits of LP gas-fueled appliances, such as for cooking, water heating, refrigerating and domestic heating. The focus was on enriching home life – something no doubt propane could (and can) do.

Companies formulated strategies to reach new customers before the competing energy got to them. LP gas dueled with electricity for customers, with the industry up against government-sponsored and subsidized electric operations.

Even in the 1970s, we heard the all-too-familiar predictions about the demise of fossil fuels and the inevitability of total electrification.

In a 1975 article, B.L. Jellison, president of both Modern LP Gas Co. in Alliance, Ohio, and the National LP-Gas Association, is quoted as saying, “Creating an all-electric America is not as easy as flicking a light switch. It is not as convenient, clean and economical as many people seem to believe. And it will not help America conserve its valuable resources.”

It was also imperative decades ago for the industry to showcase the benefits of propane. To do that, it spent a great deal of time and money on promotional campaigns, working to “splash” the fuel over the pages of magazines and newspapers. Articles told the industry’s story to farmers, small-town residents, industrial and business leaders, and even scientists.

The industry finds a great need today – arguably more than ever – to continue its promotions. And it’s due in part to an electrify-everything movement across the U.S. that has led the Propane Education & Research Council to approve nearly $10 million for its 2021 integrated marketing communications program. The effort involves strategies for environmental messaging and thought leadership on propane’s behalf.

Throughout its history, the industry has recognized the need to carefully follow the policymaking decisions that impact propane businesses. Nothing has changed today. With new leadership in Washington, D.C., the industry knows it must make its presence felt and strengthen its messaging about the role propane can play in a clean America. A recently adopted unified environmental messaging plan by and for the industry aims to do just that.

“Decarbonization does not equal electrification” is part of the industry’s message for policymakers that Steve Kaminski, president and CEO of the National Propane Gas Association, shared during its virtual winter meetings. “You don’t have to pick a winner or loser in the energy sector. We will get you to your goal.”

The industry has weathered past obstacles and unsettled times – world wars that created a need to ration supplies; economic turmoil; federally mandated fuel allocations and price controls; propane supply challenges. In those war years in particular, propane stood tall as a fuel that helped a nation in need.

Years later, we’ve witnessed the same of propane’s performance as it powers homes and businesses and helps those on the front lines of a global pandemic that has reached the one-year mark. It’s tough to keep this industry down.

That perseverance through some of this country’s most monumental and trying events should be part of our industry’s story today because it’s our history. At LP Gas, we’re honored to tell it.

Featured image: tttuna/E+/Getty Images

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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