Kelly: Propane heats homes and Texas economy

With a new year comes a new winter. Already, some areas in the Panhandle Plains have experienced upwards of four to five total inches of snow in the past two weeks. With this weather and its accompanying wind chills, even Austin has seen temperatures dip to the low 30s, causing many of us to turn on our homes’ heating systems, some of which are fueled by propane. While propane keeps our homes warm, the benefits of this fuel extend far beyond this use.

Propane users are in nearly every city and town in the United States. In Texas alone, more than 300,000 homes are heated with propane and nearly 3 billion gallons of propane are produced. The Lone Star State is a clear leader in propane, producing more than 40 percent of the total American production.

Often when individuals think of propane, they think about heating their home or cooking, but propane usage and value extends far beyond these residential applications. Nationally, Americans consume about half of their propane residentially, which includes everyday tasks like home and water heating and cooking. The other half of propane usage occurs through commercial, industrial, and agricultural applications, as well as alternative fuel in vehicles, forklifts and lawnmowers.

With its wide array of functions, propane is a strong contributor to our country’s economy, producing more than $38 billion towards America’s GDP and creating nearly 50,000 domestic jobs. Propane provides more than just heat and flame; it provides our neighbors with jobs and our cities with economic engines.

But, let’s look at an even bigger picture. Propane is an environmentally friendly fuel that maximizes performance, increases cost savings and achieves greater efficiency. These benefits of propane are becoming more and more recognized. In Texas, there are now 2,500 propane-powered school buses being used by more than 70 school districts, with Dallas County and San Antonio Northside having the largest fleets in the state. These school buses produce 60 percent less carbon monoxide when compared to gasoline and up to 25 percent fewer greenhouse gases. Not only is this clearly beneficial to our environment, but our kids now receive a cleaner and quieter ride to school.

And while Texas students are riding to school on clean, propane-powered buses, Texans are moving propane across the world. Our state is the proud home to the largest propane storage and shipping facility in the world, located outside of Houston in Mont Belvieu. We aren’t kidding when we say, “Everything’s bigger in Texas.”

Texas is a vital piece to America’s energy needs and its exports. Since 2010, propane production has increased dramatically as part of the shale gas discoveries that have revolutionized the energy sector. In 2011, propane production exceeded American consumer demand and the United States became a net exporter of propane. Today, our country exports about 25 percent of the propane produced within our borders. Exports are predicted to rise for the foreseeable future as the expected increase in production exceeds domestic demand growth, providing even further economic benefit to the country and an even busier Mont Belvieu.

Whether we use propane in our grills, on the ranch, or to send children to school, this fuel is a significant contributor to the Texas economy and an important part of America’s changing energy landscape. We must be constantly innovating and expanding propane usage while ensuring propane customers can continue to rely on this gas for their energy needs. As we harness more of our domestic energy sources, it is imperative that policymakers and the propane industry work together to keep offering Texans clean, affordable and abundant American- and Texas-made energy.

Kelly, a small business owner, is the president of the Texas Propane Gas Association.

To view the original article by John Kelly click here.