Propane Fuels America: California

May 25, 2021 By    

LP Gas’ yearlong Propane Fuels America series takes a deep dive into how each state benefits from the propane industry. Here’s our report on California.

Total odorized propane demand (2019): 556 million gallons

U.S. rank for gallons sold: 3

Gallon sales trend: California sold 492 million gallons of propane in 2017 and 556 million gallons in 2019, an increase of 13 percent. The state’s gallon sales have remained consistent in its market segments over recent years, according to Julie Johnson, vice chair of the Western Propane Gas Association (WPGA).

Census region/division gallons: West: 1.71 billion/Pacific: 910 million

Propane autogas school buses/districts and contractors: 1,940/50

Photo courtesy of Ted Johnson Propane

California retailer Ted Johnson Propane offers on-site autogas service and refueling centers. Photo courtesy of Ted Johnson Propane

Market pointers

• The Western Propane Gas Association (WPGA) is sponsoring Assembly Bill (AB) 1559 – the Innovative Renewable Energy for Buildings Act of 2021. The bill would require the California Energy Commission to establish and implement a program to provide financial incentives for renewable propane production that is used as an energy source for buildings in the state.

• 2020 was a record-breaking year for wildfires in California. Nearly 4.2 million acres burned, more than doubling the previous record from 2018 of 1.67 million acres. During the wildfire season, the state relied on propane to fuel pop-up fire command centers and camps for first responders and firefighters, providing hot water, shelter and cooked food, according to Julie Johnson, vice chair of WPGA.

• The most imminent threat to California’s propane industry is the electrification movement, according to Johnson. California Gov. Gavin Newsom aims to have all trucks and vehicles to be electric-only by 2050 and all new homes to be electric-only as they are built.

• The residential market is California’s largest market sector for propane sales, making up 44 percent of the state’s total gallon sales in 2019, followed by commercial (26 percent), internal combustion engines (11 percent) and agriculture (9 percent).

• California saw an increased demand for propane-powered heaters for outdoor dining in 2020 due to the pandemic and social distancing requirements. In addition, propane played a role in fueling COVID-19 testing centers and hospitals, Johnson says.

Fast facts

State association affiliation: Western Propane Gas Association (WGPA)/

Programs: In response to California’s wildfires, Rob Scott, safety consultant at WPGA, developed a program in which the association partners with local retailers to inspect all propane tanks in the areas that have been affected by the fires. Scott and the retailers find the tanks, inspect and red tag them – if applicable – and enter the tank location into a database.

Marquee events in 2021: The Western Propane Trade Show & Convention will take place Aug. 11-13 in Reno, Nevada. The event was originally set to take place in May, but was rescheduled to ensure a safe in-person gathering. The WPGA board meeting will precede the event on Aug. 10.

Before COVID-19: The propane industry in California had contributed more than $1.3 billion to the 2018 state economy. It’s too early to assess COVID-19’s impact on the state’s gross domestic product.

“This is our opportunity to get the bill passed in order to keep propane in the state, because the threat is that the government wants to electrify everything.” – Julie Johnson, vice chair, WPGA, about AB 1559

What’s the weather?

Average temperature (2020): 60.5 degrees F

Annual heating degree-days five-year average (2015-19): 2,158
U.S. average: 4,090

Sources: Propane Education & Research Council’s U.S. National and State Propane Market Profiles; Annual Retail Propane Sales Report;; Western Propane Gas Association; U.S. Energy Information Administration’s State Energy Profiles

About the Author:

Carly Bemer (McFadden) was the managing editor at LP Gas magazine.

Comments are currently closed.