Atlanta school district invests in autogas

February 10, 2020 By    

The facts

Henry Country Schools made the propane switch in 2019. Photo courtesy of Roush CleanTech

Henry County Schools made the propane switch in 2019. Photo courtesy of Roush CleanTech

District: Henry County Schools
Industry: Education
Location: Henry County, Georgia
Vehicles: Blue Bird propane buses
Fueling: On-site propane autogas station

The challenge

Atlanta’s Henry County Schools’ concern with bus maintenance requirements led the district to replace an aging diesel fleet with emissions-reducing propane autogas. Within the next 10 years, the district plans to operate an all-propane fleet.

Going green

Henry County Schools’ board of education decided to take a closer look at alternative fuel school buses after realizing the complex parts and extensive maintenance required to meet emission standards with its diesel buses. First, the district purchased 14 gasoline-powered buses, then made the move in 2019 to propane models. Henry County Schools’ decision was supported by reports of positive experiences with propane from nearby Georgia school districts in Fulton County, Hall County, Bibb County and Paulding County. In addition, Houston County purchased both propane and compressed natural gas (CNG) buses, and found propane to be a better choice, says Cliff Shearouse, Henry County Schools’ transportation director. Henry County Schools purchased 23 Blue Bird Vision Propane buses to replace aging diesel buses. The propane buses rolled out for the start of the 2019-20 school year.

Fueling the decision

Henry County Schools decided to build a propane fueling station at its on-site transportation facility. It costs less to build a propane station than any other fuel source, including diesel, gasoline, CNG and electric. Superior Energy Systems (SES) provided the district’s fuel infrastructure, which included two propane autogas dispensers and an 18,000-gallon skidded tank. SES’ equipment was compatible with the district’s existing fueling infrastructure set-ups. The district now has three fuels – diesel, gas and propane – on-site. Henry County Schools chose Blossman Gas to provide the propane fuel. School technicians were then trained to fuel the buses and safely handle propane autogas.

Health and money

Henry County’s propane buses emit 500 less pounds of particulate matter per year and about 19,000 less pounds of NOx annually compared to the 23 diesel buses they replaced – which were 1995 to 2006 model years.

On average, propane autogas costs up to 50 percent less than diesel and up to 40 percent less than gasoline. Shearouse reports the district currently pays on average about $2.80 per gallon for diesel fuel. After signing a fuel contract, the district’s price for propane is $1.60 per gallon for the 2019-20 school year.

By the numbers

  • 23 propane buses
  • 7.5 percent of current fleet, with plans for an all-propane fleet in the next 10 years
  • 15,000 miles per bus, per year
  • 2 fuel pumps at on-site propane station
  • 24,000 students on about 300 daily routes

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