In 2009, the U.S. Department of Energy awarded American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds to the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME) to increase the number of vehicles running on propane autogas: a clean, domestic and economical alternative fuel. Titled the Southeast Propane Autogas Development Program (SPADP), this large-scale initiative will increase the number of autogas vehicles and refueling stations throughout the Southeast.
Autogas is a clean, economical, and immediately available vehicle fuel, 90 percent of which is produced domestically. Beyond deploying the autogas vehicle conversions and implementing fueling infrastructure associated with this project, the Southeast Propane Autogas Development Program will educate the public about the viability of autogas by conducting road shows across 12 states and by deploying a national marketing and outreach campaign. By illustrating the benefits of autogas – through meticulous data collection and promotion of case studies – the program will reduce the public’s perception of the risks associated with alternative fuel use and widen the positive impact of each dollar allocated to the program.
The goal of the communications campaign for this project is to create a self-sustaining market for autogas vehicles, in turn generating further job creation, reduced dependence on foreign oil and reduced harmful vehicle emissions.
Under the Autogas Program, over 1,200 vehicles from 36 fleets – across Maryland, Virginia, Tennessee, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, and Colorado – will be converted to run on propane autogas. Fueling infrastructure will be implemented on site at many of the fleet bases and several public fueling sites will be available, totaling 10 autogas refueling stations in the program. The Autogas Program incorporates the deployment of a comprehensive education, outreach and marketing campaign to increase public understanding of the benefits and viability of autogas vehicle fuel. The campaign will include: a detailed public website, a data reporting site for fleets, fostered communications among program partners, media relations, paid online and offline advertisements, events and road shows, and the design and production of a range of collateral materials.
The Autogas Program will have far-reaching effects during the four-year period of project funding. Based on project mileage assumptions provided by each participating fleet, the converted vehicles will displace more than 4 million gallons of gasoline and will prevent over 4,000 tons of airborne pollutants. The program will directly and indirectly create hundreds of American jobs associated with manufacturing of refueling infrastructure and other equipment, conversion of vehicles and installation of fueling infrastructure, production of program materials and products, increase in propane autogas use and management of the overall program.