February 4, 2014

Raytown converting vehicles to propane

Three vehicles run on propane now, and Raytown hopes to have converted six by the end of the year. City says it isn’t affected by propane shortages and price increases that have caused concern in the Midwest.

The Raytown public works department has converted three city trucks from gasoline power to propane, pioneering an effort to save the city money.

By the end of the year, department officials hope to convert three more vehicles. And if the department works through any challenges and the trucks are reliable, the switch could be made on other city vehicles, said Public Works Director Andy Noll.

“We’re going to have probably 80 percent, a vast majority of public works trucks, switched,” Noll said.

The city said it expects to save more than $11,000 a year with the conversion of the first three trucks, a 56 percent savings in fuel costs for public works.

“We’re hoping for more savings when we convert the other three vehicles later this year,” said Brenda Gustafson, public information officer for the city.

Although all trucks still have the ability to run on gasoline if needed, the city moved to propane partly because it’s cheaper than gasoline or diesel fuel. Other reasons included lower maintenance costs, safety, environmental benefits and the ability to use fuel produced in the U.S.

Raytown officials are aware of recent concern about propane shortages and price hikes, but the city could switch back to gasoline at any time if that proves more cost effective.

To make the conversion, each truck needed a fuel tank, a mounting and bracket system for the tank, and a fuel system and line.

“We have been studying alternative fuels for about a year to determine what would work for Raytown,” Noll said.

The department also looked at compressed natural gas, Noll said, “but the cost of the refueling station is very expensive. Dispensing propane is much less expensive.”

Last summer, the board approved an agreement with Ferrellgas to supply the propane for three years.

Gustafson and Noll said the department is always looking at ways to save money, whether it’s buying products in the off season or installing energy-efficient traffic lights.

“Right now, our focus is on energy consumption and it’s a continuous effort,” Noll said.

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