Investing in image

October 1, 2005 By    

We all know what most people in the propane industry think of the good folks in Washington, D.C. But what do decision makers in the nation’s capital think about our industry?

 Patrick Hyland
Patrick Hyland

A survey of opinion leaders on Capitol Hill following the National Propane Gas Association‘s year-long, $1 million Capital Awareness Program shows awareness of and attitude toward our fuel has improved since last fall. Specifically:

  • There has been a dramatic increase in the awareness of the benefits and potential of propane. Overall, awareness levels have increased three-fold, from just 9 percent in August 2004 to 26 percent last May.
  • An increasing percentage of Washington, D.C. opinion leaders see propane as more than just a grilling fuel. There has been significant improvement in six of the seven attributes tested. Double-digit gains were made in two areas: those who agree that propane “is important in meeting our future energy needs,” and those who agree that it “plays an important role in our national economy.”
  • The industry’s image has seen a slight improvement since the baseline survey. The percentage who give the it a positive rating has increased from 22 percent to 28 percent.

Prior to the campaign, research indicated that the right people in Washington knew the wrong facts, not enough facts or no facts about propane.

Last May, 300 propane industry representatives from 36 states blitzed D.C. in a two-day meet-and-greet of their elected officials. It was an effective way to increase our collective profile and still provide vital input on issues specific to the concerns of each region.

NPGA leaders want to capitalize on the program’s momentum by making Propane Days an ongoing event. There is concern that funding may not be adequate to make that happen, however. NPGA plans to cut program funding for the second year to 43 percent of the first-year level by eliminating the economic impact study and two rounds of survey research.

What association leaders – and rank and file members – need to determine is how much bang the industry gets from the bucks spent to influence those who make the decisions that impact our industry. Did those initiatives have a role in the dramatic legislative and regulatory victories of the last six months?

Would we have gotten the flexibility to address emergency hours-of-service needs in the recently passed Highway Bill? Significantly, NPGA language was used in the final version.

After a decade of futility, how likely was passage of the CLEAR Act in its entirety in both the Energy and Transportation Bills? The landmark legislation includes substantial tax credits for alternative fuels, vehicles and infrastructure.

As we have learned in the expensive nationwide ad campaign, awareness and understanding of propane is an investment worth continuing.

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