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Propane Fuels America: Wisconsin

April 30, 2021 By    
Photo courtesy of Boehlke Bottled Gas

The Boehlke family has been providing propane delivery and service to Milwaukee and southeastern Wisconsin since 1938. Photo courtesy of Boehlke Bottled Gas

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 Wisconsin.

Total odorized propane demand (2019): 488 million gallons

U.S. rank for gallons sold: 6

Gallon sales trend: Wisconsin sold 346 million gallons of propane in 2017 and 488 million gallons in 2019, an increase of 41 percent. The upswing is due in part to the state’s growing transportation market, according to Emma Corning, executive director of the Wisconsin Propane Gas Association.

Census region/division gallons: Midwest: 4.13 billion/East North Central: 2.19 billion

Propane autogas school buses/districts and contractors: 1,081/42


Market pointers

• Residential heating is Wisconsin’s largest sector for propane use. More than 250,000 homes are powered by propane, particularly in rural areas where there is little to no access to natural gas.

• One of the original autogas advocates in Wisconsin is the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department, says Emma Corning, executive director of the Wisconsin Propane Gas Association (WPGA). The department has been using propane for nearly 20 years and fuels the majority of its fleet with it.

• Prior to the pandemic, Wisconsin’s fastest-growing sector was transportation, most notably in the school bus market. As of 2020, Wisconsin had 1,081 propane-fueled school buses in operation. Despite sales slowing due to the pandemic, WPGA sees the sector as an area of growth.

• WPGA plans to continue its efforts to establish a state PERC program, Corning says. The bill WPGA introduced was waiting on a vote from the Senate when the pandemic began, interrupting the bill’s progress. The association is now reintroducing the bill. “If we’re successful this time around, this will be one of the biggest steps forward for the future of the Wisconsin propane industry,” Corning says.

• The state association is also closely monitoring the electrification movement. Wisconsin, especially in its metropolitan areas, is pushing the use of clean or renewable energy sources, Corning says, with several utilities and manufacturers near net-zero carbon or committed to being so in the next five to 10 years. The state industry is watching for gas-ban bills or other bills that prioritize other energy sources over propane.


Fast facts

State association affiliation: Wisconsin Propane Gas Association (WPGA)/wipga.org

Programs: In addition to industry and Certified Employee Training Program training, WPGA also offers emergency response training for fire departments, a $25 consumer rebate to replace out-of-date regulators, a safety brochure rebate that provides safety materials to marketers for the cost of shipping, a $200 water heater rebate and a $2,000 autogas incentive.

Marquee events in 2021: The North Central Convention & Trade Show in La Crosse, Wisconsin, is scheduled for Aug. 24-26. The event is jointly hosted by the Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin propane associations.

Before COVID-19: The propane industry in Wisconsin had contributed nearly $2 billion to the 2018 state economy. It’s too early to assess COVID-19’s impact on the state’s gross domestic product.

“School bus operators love propane’s performance in the frigid temperatures, especially compared to diesel.” – Emma Corning, executive director, Wisconsin Propane Gas Association


What’s the weather?

Average temperature (2020): 44.9 degrees F

Annual heating degree-days five-year average (2015-19): 7,430
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; Wisconsin 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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