Propane Fuels America: Montana

February 19, 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 Montana.

Montana scenery photo: Matt Anderson/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Photo: Matt Anderson/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Total odorized propane demand (2019): 129 million gallons

U.S. rank for gallons sold: 28

Gallon sales trend: Montana has been on an upswing since selling 98 million gallons in 2017 and 105 million in 2018. That 32 percent growth since 2017 is due in part to improved data reporting by propane retailers, says Tom Clark of the Rocky Mountain Propane Association.

Census region/division gallons: West: 1.71 billion/Mountain: 803 million

Propane autogas school buses/districts and contractors: 204/17

Market pointers

⦁ It’s no surprise that nearly 80 percent of propane gallon sales in Montana come from the residential market. A rural population and cold winters keep propane volumes flowing.

⦁ Though Montana has the largest single underground natural gas storage site in the nation, most rural areas have limited natural gas pipeline connectivity, increasing the attractiveness of alternative fuels.

⦁ Propane has seen steady growth in the last decade, and retailers enjoy easy access to Canadian supply sourced from the oil-and-gas hotbed of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

⦁ The state propane association has presented at school bus association events as it works to make inroads in the autogas market. As of 2019, Bozeman Public Schools had 51 propane buses in its fleet. Billings and Missoula are also targets for propane bus expansion.

⦁ Montana has the nation’s largest recoverable coal reserves – almost one-third of the U.S. total. While coal has driven electricity generation, it accounted for less than half of the state’s power generation for the second year in a row in 2018. Montana is the fifth-largest producer of hydroelectric power in the nation.

Fast facts

State association affiliation: Rocky Mountain Propane Association (RMPA)/

Programs: The RMPA consumer rebate program allows $200 per propane appliance and two appliances per home. Its focus is on replacing electric water heaters with propane-fueled water heaters and wood-burning stoves with propane stoves. The association also holds Certified Employee Training Program classes and promotes propane through a consumer campaign. The campaign utilizes an association podcast called The State of Energy ( and offers propane retailers a way to promote their companies on talk radio shows.

Marquee events in 2021: RMPA is a partner at the Western Propane Trade Show
& Convention in Reno, Nevada. Spring meeting March 24-26 in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. (Check with the association for details and any changes due to COVID-19.)

Before COVID-19: The propane industry in Montana had contributed $407 million to the 2018 state economy. It’s too early to assess COVID-19’s impact on the state’s gross domestic product.

“Montana is a large state with a unique land mass from the eastern Plains to Glacier National Park in the western Rockies. [It] is the largest propane user out of our four states that mostly consists of co-ops and multi-state companies.” – Tom Clark, executive director, RMPA

What’s the weather?

Average temperature (2019): 39.9 degrees F

Annual heating degree-days five-year average (2015-19): 7,737
U.S. average: 4,090

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

About the Author:

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

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