The City of Livonia, Mich. is in the final stage of opening its own refueling station for propane-autogas-powered vehicles in its fleet. Superintendent of Public Utilities Don Rohraff expects to have the station live within a month.
“All that’s left to do is finish training the employees who will be using the fueling station to refuel vehicles and complete a final state inspection,” Rohraff explained.
Currently, the City receives drop shipments of propane, forcing the buses, mowers, and trucks to meet up at the drop site or a local hardware store to refuel.
The station will support the three ROUSH CleanTech Ford E-450 Cutaway buses that run in the Livonia Community Transit. The conversion of the three buses to propane autogas began in May 2012. Livonia implemented the vehicles in order to reduce fuel costs and run its fleet vehicles on a cleaner, alternative fuel.
Additionally, three ROUSH CleanTech Ford F-250 trucks in use in Public Works and eight propane-powered mowers in Parks and Recreations will benefit from the station.
On average, using propane generates a savings of about $1 per gallon in comparison to using regular gas. While Livonia does not have a true cost savings available to date, Rohraff said the City saves $0.50 per gallon after factoring in the cost for the drop-shipments of propane.
“The fueling station will allow us to save excess of a dollar since we will no longer have to pay for the drop shipments,” Rohraff said.
The City plans to reinvest the money it saves in additional equipment and vehicles.
“We are looking at adding one or two more buses to the fleet by this fall,” Rohraff said.
Rohraff said there is a slight decrease in the number of miles per gallon a vehicle achieves using propane, but the benefits outweigh the costs. There is no difference in the power and torque of the vehicles in comparison to using regular gas, and Rohraff has so far experienced less wear and tear on the vehicles.
“The frequency of maintenance service on the vehicles has gone down along with the wear and tear on parts because the propane burns hotter and cleaner,” Rohraff said. “Instead of having to take it in every 3,000, it has extended to 5,000 miles. Hopefully, the life of the buses will be above the average 100,000 miles, as well.”
By Kirsti Correa