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New York, Vermont leaders celebrate renewable propane’s arrival

April 15, 2022 By    

New York state celebrated its first delivery of renewable propane this week in an event held to educate attendees about how a traditional fossil fuel now has a renewable component that allows it to compete with electricity, solar and wind power.

The event, held at Ray Energy’s rail and truck propane terminal in Hampton, New York, drew about 100 attendees, including leaders from the New York Propane Gas Association (NYPGA), the Propane Education & Research Council and the Vermont Fuel Dealers Association. Hampton is near the Vermont border.

Propane rail car photo courtesy of Joe Mulone Photography

Ray Energy received the renewable propane, generally made from biomass and waste products, in two 30,000-gallon rail cars from an undisclosed supplier in the southeastern U.S. (Photo courtesy of Joe Mulone Photography)

The day’s events centered on awareness and education, says Ken Ray, president of Troy, New York-based wholesale propane supplier Ray Energy.

With some policymakers pushing gas bans in New York and Vermont, propane industry leaders are feeling a sense of urgency to provide a solution that will keep fuels like propane front and center for consumers. Industry leaders feel renewable propane – which, according to Ray Energy, carries a carbon intensity that’s less than half of electricity – is that solution.

“We feel it’s pretty timely because the policymakers in New York and Vermont are on the cusp of making laws that will ban the installation of propane furnaces ultimately in both states,” Ray says. “Our feeling is they really need to examine this further, pause and look at the fact that these propane furnaces that can burn renewable propane are actually better for the environment.”

Ray Energy received the renewable propane, generally made from biomass and waste products, in two 30,000-gallon rail cars from an undisclosed supplier in the southeastern U.S. Because it’s nearly identical to conventional propane in how it’s stored, distributed and used, renewable propane offers a “plug and play” product for the industry and its consumers.

Ken Ray photo courtesy of Joe Mulone Photography

Ray Energy President Ken Ray is a fuel industry veteran of more than 45 years who has past experiences with renewables. (Photo courtesy of Joe Mulone Photography)

Ray, a fuel industry veteran of more than 45 years who has past experiences with renewables through his work with biodiesel, expands on the advantages of renewable propane in fueling consumer appliances.

“You don’t need to remove a furnace; you can use it in a conventional furnace,” he says. “One of the problems that we see is, [in] the push toward electrification, they would encourage people to remove their furnace and replace it with another piece of equipment. The carbon footprint just in that activity will cause increased carbon.”

Ray Energy’s showcase in Hampton also promoted renewable propane’s use as a vehicle fuel, as it displayed an autogas-fueled dump truck, bobtail and pickup trucks. When used as a vehicle fuel, renewable propane has a carbon intensity of 19 percent, which is five times better than conventional diesel and gasoline, according to the company. At the point of combustion, renewable propane is carbon neutral, it adds.

“Initially this product will be used for on-highway [applications], for autogas customers that initially have an interest,” Ray says. “Secondarily our hope is the government will support this product the same way they support wind and solar so that we’re on a level playing field.”

New York state Sen. Daniel Stec also attended the event, speaking in support of diversified energy supply sources.

“Renewable propane is a viable fuel alternative for heat and power to achieve the climate goals set forth by the state,” adds Bill Overbaugh, interim executive director of the NYPGA, in a Ray Energy news release.

LP Gas asked Ray if renewable propane offers the path forward for the entire propane industry.

“In my heart, I do believe that because the nation puts so much behind wind and solar,” he says. “We have a product that is plug and play, and it’s certainly worthy of the support of the government the same way wind and solar is. It’s just more of a practical approach.”

Featured homepage photo courtesy of Joe Mulone Photography

About the Author:

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

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