Georgia Sheriff's fleet sees significant fuel cost savings with propane autogas

The Carroll County Sheriff's Office near Atlanta is saving an estimated $135,000 annually in fuel costs running 36 Ford Crown Victorias on propane autogas through the Southeast Propane Autogas Development Program. The clean fleet will also displace more than 105 tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year.

Carroll County first switched six cruisers to autogas through Alliance AutoGas in 2009, and then in 2010 received SPADP funding to convert an additional 30 vehicles. The average Carroll County Sheriff's Office patrol car drives about 30,000 miles each year, which equates to significant fuel and maintenance savings with its 36 autogas vehicles.

In 2012, the county was awarded funding assistance for the conversion of 10 more vehicles through SPADP, which is managed and administered by the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy and Virginia Clean Cities (VCC) at James Madison University. With all 46 fleet vehicles running on autogas by early 2013, the county will enjoy more than $170,000 in fuel savings while eliminating more than 130 tons of emissions each year.

Carroll County Sheriff Terry Langley began researching options for alternative fuels because major fluctuations in gas prices were continually causing budget problems. He says propane autogas was the most practical option, and that the autogas vehicle program has been well-received by the county's officers.

"At first there were some questions about the flammability of the fuel, to which we explained that the fuel is as safe as gasoline – in fact, the autogas tanks are many times more puncture-resistant than gasoline tanks," said Sheriff Langley. "With a little bit of education and fueling training, the officers felt comfortable operating the autogas vehicles. Now we even have officers request to drive the propane vehicles because they have better pickup."

Their department's work often includes interstate travel, and their officers have not had issues locating propane autogas fueling stations in other states.

"The move to propane autogas has been an excellent one for our county," said Sheriff Langley. "We have achieved more control over our budget, it's a safe fuel that burns cleaner and our officers like the vehicle performance. I wish we had made the switch sooner."

Comprised of public and private partnerships throughout 10 southeastern states, Denver and Pittsburgh, SPADP is converting more than 1,200 vehicles to propane autogas and implementing more than 30 autogas fueling stations in the region. The project is made possible by funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the U.S. Department of Energy's Clean Cities Program. The Alliance AutoGas network provides autogas vehicle conversions, fuel supply and support for SPADP. Alliance partner Force 911 in Pendergrass, Ga., performed the Carroll County conversions, while Alliance founder Blossman Gas provided infrastructure for two fueling stations and supplies the county autogas year-round.