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The Quest for Alternatives

Switching to greener fuels often makes financial sense—on top of being better for the environment. So why aren’t more companies saving greenbacks by going green? Education is the key.

Hey, Eric Hansen from Competitive Lawn Service here again talking about alternative fuels.

I had a discussion with a vendor this week, and after explaining to him the financial and environmental benefits that I see in alternative fuel and specifically propane, he only had one question.

“Why isn’t everyone looking at this?”

That’s a great question.

The manufacturers in our industry are lined up with new equipment releases for 2010 that run on propane. The Ford/Roush F Series 100 percent propane-powered trucks are available and ready. Distributers of propane fuel can provide deliveries to most everywhere in the country for our industry. The landscape industry can begin to switch to alternative fuel for trucks and equipment if they choose to do so and if they know how.

This week I will be speaking at the Propane Engine Fuel Summit outside of Washington. This event and “webinar” sponsored by the Propane Education and Research Council will have representation from all areas of alternative fuel for our industry.

The question I believe that everyone is asking in the propane industry, as well as our industry, is Why isn’t everyone looking at this?

I may just have the answer. It starts with the entrepreneur.

Being an entrepreneur has no blueprint. Each and every forward step that we take is a guess, a test, a new place that no one has been yet. That is the way that it is with anything new. The entrepreneur may invent something new. Much more likely the entrepreneur takes what is out there and assembles it into something new, different, better. After all of these pieces have been assembled and a blueprint is created, it all can seem so simple and easy to replicate.

Running a company that uses alternative fuel changes how a company operates every day. For our company, it is not just the equipment or the trucks or the fill station. There are so many additional items that need to be addressed. Federal, state, and local regulations, employee training, maintenance requirements, vendors, repair parts, ever-changing tax credits, and over-the-road fuel taxes are all part of this journey into the unknown.

Propane as an alternative fuel for our industry needs a blueprint, a correct assembly of all the pieces to switch to 100 percent alternative fuel. This switch needs to be financially and environmentally viable for a company to do. This significantly reduces the risk of change. Without this blueprint, propane becomes a great idea that never takes hold.

This year we will be able to create this blueprint that can make it easy and simple for our industry to move forward with clean-burning propane as alternative fuel. Competitive Lawn Service can show how all of these pieces can be put together and how each company can receive financial benefit as well as a significant environmental benefit by switching to propane.

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In the News

Competitive Lawn Service Takes Keys to First ROUSH Under-Bed Propane F-350

LIVONIA, MI – Competitive Lawn Service is on a quest to run their business 100 percent on propane. They already have the mowers, the trimmers, and their other power tools running on this alternative fuel. The key missing element was the truck which hauls all this equipment to the customer. That was remedied today as Eric Hansen accepted the keys from Jack Roush to the first production ROUSH® propane-fueled F-350 with an under-bed tank.

“We’ve been waiting three-quarters of a year for this day and now it has come to fruition,” said Hansen, president of Competitive Lawn Service, Inc. “I’m excited to be here at the factory, I’m excited to meet Jack Roush, and I’m excited that ROUSH® Performance is working on the technology for liquid propane-powered vehicles.” The key handoff took place at the ROUSH® Performance Vehicle Assembly Area in Livonia, Mich., where the trucks are converted to run on propane.

Hansen plans to convert the other trucks in his Downers Grove, Illinois-based fleet to ROUSH® propane F-350s, and says this will result in a considerable savings for his business by using propane, a predominantly domestically-produced fuel.

“A down-and-dirty number would be a savings of around $800 per truck each month,” he explained. “With all the lawn care equipment added in we could be saving $2500 per month per truck. I’m looking forward to proving that out over the next several months.”

One of the reasons Competitive Lawn Service selected the ROUSH® propane F-350 was the availability of an under-bed tank. While ROUSH® offers an in-bed tank option for users who require longer range, Hansen said an under-bed tank was his only choice.

“We had been looking for a propane truck that offered an under-bed tank because in our line of work we need the full eight-foot bed capacity. ROUSH® was the only company we found that offered this option. On top of that, the truck looks great and operates exactly the same as a gasoline-powered F-350,” he said. With the ROUSH® liquid propane injection system, there is no loss of horsepower, torque or towing capacity.

“It was great to meet Eric today and see how excited he is to bring the ROUSH® propane F-350 into his fleet,” said Jack Roush. “I commend him for converting not only his vehicles but all of his power tools to run off of propane. Not only will it help to save his company a lot of money, but he will be doing a lot to help clean up the environment, literally and figuratively.”

As an alternative fuel, propane offers a variety of advantages. It is available “right here, right now” with a national fueling infrastructure already in place. Propane burns cleaner, with up to 20 percent less nitrous oxide, up to 60 percent less carbon monoxide and fewer particulate emissions. It is already the third most widely used fuel worldwide, following gasoline and diesel. Propane is 90 percent domestically produced, and as an alternative fuel, the purchase of propane-powered vehicles are eligible for a variety of federal, state, and municipal tax credits or rebates.

Numerous studies have been conducted on the operational savings fleets can achieve by converting to propane as a motor fuel, and a savings calculator is available online at www.SwitchToPropane.com that allows the user to input variables specific to their usage.

Complete details on the ROUSH® propane offerings can be found online at www.ROUSHperformance.com/Propane or by calling 800-59-ROUSH.

Based in Livonia, Mich., “The Art of Performance Engineering” takes place at ROUSH® Performance. To get a look behind the scenes at what goes on at ROUSH® and how the vehicles are designed, manufactured and produced logon to www.ROUSHtv.com. For more information see your local ROUSH® dealer, visit www.ROUSHperformance.com or telephone toll-free (800) 59-ROUSH. Follow us on Twitter @_ROUSH_ or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/roushperformance.