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A school bus powered by propane.
Famers Pride in Nebraska recently helped a local school district add school buses that use propane as fuel.
C magazine

School districts turn to propane to power buses

Learn how a Nebraska cooperative is helping a school district add school buses powered by propane autogas fuel.
Nov 29, 2021

Propane is used mostly to heat homes and dry crops, but another use of the alternative fuel is growing in popularity: powering fleets. Grant opportunities and programs like the CHS Propane-Powered® rebate program have helped cooperatives partner with school districts to transition buses from diesel to propane power.  

Farmers Pride in northeast Nebraska had been trying to break into the transportation side of the propane business for years, says Dave Spencer, sales and marketing director. In 2020, the co-op was able to partner with the Yankton, S.D., school district on a pilot project to get two propane school buses. In 2021, the district added two more buses and plans to add two more in 2022. 

“With our three-year pilot, we’re tracking data to see if it makes sense to slowly convert our fleet,” says Jason Bietz, business manager for the district.  

The program got off the ground with a little help. Farmers Pride used the CHS program to contribute more than $20,000 toward the autogas dispenser, which is located in the school bus yard. In addition to the $2,500 per-bus rebate from CHS, the district qualified for Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) grants through the South Dakota Department of Agriculture & Natural Resources, covering 35% of the bus purchase price.  

Bietz says most cost savings with the conversion to propane have come from being able to lock in contracts for their 1,000-gallon tank when propane pricing is favorable. “This shows us how the savings could really pile up over time,” he says.  

Cost savings is not the only reason the district likes the buses. “Propane buses heat up almost instantly and they run quieter than diesel-powered buses,” says Bietz. “Plus, we run a daily bus exchange where about 15 buses idle in one location loading kids. That’s a lot of emissions in one location. Using a cleaner-burning fuel helps us leave a cleaner carbon footprint on our community.”  


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