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Propane Fuels America: North Carolina

October 15, 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 North Carolina.

Total odorized propane demand (2019): 364 million gallons

U.S. rank for gallons sold: 10

Gallon sales trend: North Carolina sold 337 million gallons of propane in 2017 and 364 million gallons in 2019, an increase of 8 percent.

Census region/division gallons: South: 2.61 billion/South Atlantic: 1.37 billion

Propane autogas school buses/districts and contractors: 78/3


Market Pointers

 Photo by John Jessup

The North Carolina Propane Gas Association opened NC-TEC, a training center to bring young professionals into the industry, in 2021. Photo by John Jessup

⦁ The North Carolina Propane Gas Association (NCPGA) opened NC-TEC, a training center in Graham, North Carolina, aimed at bringing more young professionals into the propane industry. The center took about four years to complete, says John Jessup, president and CEO of NCPGA. The association is recruiting heavily from the military to bring people to the training center, where students will take an eight-week course and graduate with the certifications required to work in the industry.

⦁ A “freedom of choice” bill was presented to the North Carolina state legislature, Jessup says. If passed, the bill would secure residents the freedom to select their own energy sources for their homes. North Carolina has not yet seen the industry-threatening legislation found in other states, but Jessup says it’s important to pass the bill preemptively in case such bills gain traction. It passed in the House and was in the hands of a state Senate committee as of late August.

⦁ Propane autogas-fueled school buses present an area of growth for North Carolina’s industry. NCPGA received $1.2 million in the first round of the Volkswagen settlement distribution. The association hopes to receive more in the second round and is urging the Department of Public Instruction to consider adding more propane-fueled school buses to its fleets.

⦁ The Dixie Pipeline and Apex Terminal is situated in the middle of North Carolina and is the state’s main propane supply distribution center. Jessup estimates about 80 percent of the propane in the state comes in through that terminal.

⦁ The state’s residential sector is the largest in terms of propane gallons, making up 50 percent of total sales in 2019. The commercial and agriculture sectors are responsible for 21 percent and 18 percent of total gallon sales, respectively.


Fast facts

State association affiliation: North Carolina Propane Gas Association (NCPGA)/ncpga.org

Programs: NCPGA has spent much of 2021 wrapping up the NC-TEC training center and recruiting students to the program. Two classes of students have passed through the program already, and the association is looking to fill more classes throughout the remainder of the year.

Marquee events in 2021: NCPGA hosted its 2021 annual convention Sept. 12-14 in Pinehurst, North Carolina.

Before COVID-19: The propane industry in North Carolina had contributed more than $1.2 billion to the 2018 state economy. It’s too early to assess COVID-19’s impact on the state’s gross domestic product.

“We’re literally going and finding the people, recruiting them, bringing them in, training them and then finding them jobs in the industry.” – John Jessup, president and CEO, North Carolina Propane Gas Association, on recruiting young professionals for the industry through its NC-TEC training center


What’s the weather?

Average temperature (2020): 61 degrees F
Annual heating degree-days five-year average (2015-19): 3,175
U.S. average: 4,090


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

About the Author:

Carly McFadden is associate editor at LP Gas Magazine. She is a graduate of Ohio University's E.W. Scripps School of Journalism and a native of Cleveland, Ohio. McFadden can be reached at cmcfadden@northcoastmedia.net.

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