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El Paso Area Schools Expand Clean Air Fleet

09/21/2010

56 propane buses already added with Districts considering even more

El Paso, TX –– Just one year ago, the El Paso Metropolitan Planning Organization approved funding for eight El Paso-area school districts to purchase a total of 16 ultra-low emission propane buses. Today those buses are on the road. Each of the eight districts—Anthony, Canutillo, Clint, El Paso, Fabens, San Elizario, Socorro and Ysleta—brought one of their buses to El Paso ISD today in an event to recognize their clean air achievements and to learn about additional incentives that are available.

“These buses are a beautiful sight,” said Railroad Commissioner Michael L. Williams. “The Texas Propane Fleet community is growing. The seed money provided by the MPO has started an effort that is already growing and producing results. The original sixteen propane buses were closely followed by 56 more, and I anticipate additional propane buses will be ordered as districts continue retiring their older buses.”

The MPO’s action has created a groundswell of interest in propane school buses. El Paso and Ysleta ISDs have already received 56 more propane buses. And Socorro, Canutillo and Fabens ISDs are applying to buy more propane buses and install fueling stations through the Railroad Commission’s $15.7 million Department of Energy and State Energy Conservation Office grants. The Commission has $1.7 million available in these grants to help public fleets buy and fuel more propane vehicles.

“I especially want to applaud the local community leaders, Railroad Commission staff, and school district staff whose time and energy have made this a success,” added Williams. “When this effort started three years ago, the new generation of ultra-low-emission propane school buses had just debuted on the market. Now, your efforts have both lowered emissions that students are exposed to and reduced your vehicle operating costs. That’s a smart use of taxpayer dollars. Your persistence and dedication are very much appreciated.”

Because the buses are fueled by clean-burning propane, they have cut 14.6 tons of smog-forming NOx, 94 tons of carbon monoxide, and a ton of particulate matter from the El Paso region’s air.

Cost savings are also significant. Railroad Commission estimates are that a typical propane bus will save an average of $5,866 the first year, including the Commission’s grant funding, and $1,250 in operating costs each year afterwards. Additionally, if Congress restores the federal motor fuel excise tax credit for propane, districts will see an additional $1,250 every year from the federal government.

The results of these eight school districts and other fleets around Texas can be followed through the Texas Propane Fleets (TPF) online community, a new initiative made possible by the Commission’s Department of Energy Clean Cities grant. TPF includes interviews with propane fleet managers, the latest information on new products and new incentives, answers to your questions, and lighter fare, like the story of how a ROUSH propane-powered Ford Mustang took first place at the NMCA Muscle Car Nationals last month.

The TPF community can be found at www.texaspropane.org/blog, which also has links to the community’s other sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and LinkedIn.

“I hope school districts will be active participants in our new online Texas Propane Fleets community,” said Williams. “Texas Propane Fleets is a place for you to share your propane experiences with others around the state so that together we can grow this program and together we can take pride in our accomplishments.”

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Governor George W. Bush appointed Michael Williams to the Railroad Commission in December 1998.  Williams chaired the Commission from July 2007 to February 2009 and previously served as chair from September 1999 to September 2003.  Williams was elected statewide most recently in November 2008 to a six-year term expiring in 2014. He is the first African-American in Texas history to hold an elected position in the executive branch of Texas state government.  In December 2002, Governor Rick Perry appointed Williams to chair the Governor’s Clean Coal Technology Council. 

www.texaspropane.org/blog