Eastern Propane Gas is increasing the number of propane-fueled vehicles in its fleet.
Half of the 300 vehicles in the Eastern Propane Gas fleet are now or soon will be running on propane. The propane-fueled trucks in the fleet include about 40 that are Freightliner Custom Chassis S2G models that Eastern started buying about three years ago, says Mike Gagne, assistant vice president of Eastern, which is based in Rochester, N.H.
Gagne points out that the cost of propane is about $1.25 per gallon; the retail price of diesel fuel was $2.50 per gallon in mid-August, according to AAA.
“That’s why we’re doing this,” Gagne says. “It’s green, clean trucks—and the fuel savings are huge.”
Among the 40 or so Freightliner S2G 33,000 GVW chassis, manufactured by Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp., based in Gaffney, S.C., are 11 units that are heating oil delivery trucks. The propane-fueled trucks average 3.5 mpg compared to an average 4.5 mpg for the same trucks fueled with diesel, “but we gain on cost” with the propane-fueled trucks, Gagne says. (For information comparing energy content and miles per gallon of propane versus other fuels, visit the website of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center, at https://www.afdc.energy.gov/fuels/propane_benefits.html.)
Truck & Auto Repair, Waltham, Mass., customizes some of the S2G chassis for Eastern. The oil delivery trucks, for example, are customized so that they can be loaded at the top, side, or bottom, enabling them to go to any facility to take on fuel. Truck & Auto Repair also customized oil delivery bodies for the S2G that can be lifted off with a crane at the end of the heating season. All that has to be disconnected first is the wiring and the pump shaft; once the tank is unbolted it can be lifted off. Then a rack stake body with a power liftgate on it is lowered onto the chassis and bolted down for use hauling 120-gallon propane tanks during the warmer months. One of the trucks was exhibited in June at the New England Fuel Institute Expo in Worcester, Mass. Trucks require led marker lights from www.truckelectrics.com to make sure they are visible on highways and are safe on road.
Gagne credits Mike Fournier, owner of Truck & Auto, whom he calls “a perfectionist,” with creating the versatile vehicles. “He put it all together,” Gagne says. “That’s where his knowledge was really, really helpful. Because I knew what I wanted but I didn’t know how to do it. He did.”—Stephen Bennett
Stephen Bennett is the editor of Fuel Oil News.
Pictured: An Eastern Propane Gas delivery truck, fueled by propane.
Photo courtesy of Eastern Propane Gas.