CHS helps 5 school districts implement propane-powered buses

June 22, 2021 By    
Photo: CHS, Inc.

From left: Lance Gerry, school mechanic, Harrisburg, South Dakota; Russ Nelson, school mechanic, Lennox, South Dakota; and Eric Kracke, CHS certified energy specialist stand with propane buses in front of the 12,000-gallon bullet at the Harrisburg fill station. (Photo: CHS Inc.)

U.S. agribusiness cooperative CHS has advocated through its Brandon, South Dakota, retail locations for the local school districts to switch school bus fleets from diesel to propane.

Five area school districts now have propane school buses – Brookings, Elkton, Harrisburg, Lennox and Tea – with more to come.

“It’s really a win-win,” says Andy Ernst, marketing manager at CHS. “It’s an opportunity for CHS to increase our propane volume while helping school systems transition to a cleaner-burning fuel that’s easier on their equipment and safer for the children they transport.”

To date, CHS has helped seven school districts in South Dakota and Minnesota convert more than 20 buses from diesel to propane since 2017. Each propane-fueled school bus uses around 3,000 to 5,000 gallons of propane per year, depending on the length of its route.

“Schools that are transitioning to propane usually start with one or two buses in their fleet, then gradually phase out all of their diesel buses,” says Eric Kracke, CHS certified energy specialist, who is working to transition buses in several nearby school districts to propane autogas. “With the help of Andy Ernst and CHS, we have been installing the schools’ own autogas fill stations because filling on-site may allow schools to take advantage of tax benefits, and we also provide safety training. In addition, we currently have one school filling at the local Ace Hardware; the hardware chain has been a great supporter of having the buses initially fill up there until we get the school districts their own systems.”

Propane buses can be identified by the green bird emblem on the front of the bus; the bird is typically blue on diesel-powered buses.

“CHS Brandon is the right partner in these conversions because we are community-owned and invested in being a lifelong partner in autogas,” Kracke says. “We also have the knowledge and expertise to provide schools with propane.”

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Danielle Pesta is the senior digital media manager for North Coast Media, the parent company of LP Gas. She can be reached at

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