Propane industry responds to proposed energy policy favoring natural gas

January 10, 2013 By    

“As we sit here right now, the governor of Connecticut is proposing energy policy that effectively benefits natural gas to the exclusion of propane.”

The words of Roy Willis, president and CEO of the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC), were spoken during the council’s December meeting in Florida and came during a discussion about propane autogas and the inroads being made in states like West Virginia and Virginia.

Willis was trying to add perspective to the energy environment of today and remind the propane industry to remain vigilant to policy issues “that could slam the door in our face.”

The industry is doing just that, submitting more than 200 written comments to Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), notes Joe Rose, president of the Propane Gas Association of New England (PGANE). Public comments on the draft plan were accepted through Dec. 21 and will help form a final plan.

The state’s approach is based on legislation that established DEEP in 2011 and requires an energy strategy for residential, commercial and industrial issues every three years. Its plan analyzes energy use, identifies challenges and examines opportunities to keep costs low and the environment clean. Visit

Natural gas is among five priority areas in the plan, which highlights the state’s desire to provide nearly 300,000 additional homes, businesses and other facilities with access to gas – made possible, in part, through the construction of 900 miles of gas mains. The plan also supports vehicle fleet conversions to natural gas and the construction of natural gas filling stations.

Only 31 percent of Connecticut homes heat with natural gas, DEEP notes, with heating oil being the preferred energy choice. While only 37,000 Connecticut homes heat with propane (2.8 percent of the market), the state’s plan could block the propane industry from rightfully converting heating oil customers to its clean fuel. And then there’s the danger of other states following such a model that practically decides consumers’ energy choices.

The shale gas drilling boom has brought benefits to the propane industry, with greater supply and lower prices against our energy competitors, but it’s also strengthening the status of natural gas as an energy solution. That’s troubling for a propane industry that offers the same benefits, if not more, to consumers.

Connecticut’s energy strategy is a good example of why the propane industry must remain vigilant in these changing times.

Bettering the brand

While natural gas is getting much of the energy attention today, the propane industry is developing its own strategy to grow gallons, approving a $2.4 million communications plan for 2013.

Swanson Russell, the principal contractor in the plan, is working with PERC on better branding – for the council and the industry. Could and should the propane industry align itself with natural gas and ride those coattails? Talk continues on that topic, as well as on branding propane autogas.


No words can describe the tragic events that took place in December at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn.

PGANE Chairman-Elect Stephen Rosentel, president of Leahy’s Fuels, lives in the community where the shooting took place, and his two grown children attended the school.

“Every community is at risk,” Rosentel writes in a PGANE-circulated letter urging congressional assistance to find a national solution to these types of mass shootings. “Leadership is about risk management – minimize the probability of something bad happening and reduce the consequence.

“We have to do something,” he writes.

New perspectives in 2013

Two new columnists debut in our January issue – Randy Doyle (business) and Vinny Mullineaux (technology). Doyle replaces Carl Hughes, whom we thank for the 100-plus articles that he contributed over the years.

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

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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