Phillips Energy Inc., a fuel-related energy provider in southeastern Virginia, says it has partnered with regional automotive repair facility Harris Garage Inc. to help area fleet operators convert vehicles to run on propane autogas.
As reported, the companies will work to help fleet operators take advantage of government incentives and achieve the significant long-term economic and environmental benefits of propane autogas.
In 2010, Phillips Energy added propane autogas, E85 flex fuel and B20 biodiesel to its vehicle offering, making it one of the first companies in Virginia to offer three alternative fuels for on-road use.
Phillips Energy says it assists operators with their fleet conversion efforts by setting up their fuel storage and delivery infrastructure and coordinating with skilled vehicle installation partners, such as Harris Garage. Conversion hardware is supplied by Alliance Autogas, a specialized national provider of autogas technology and support.
During the fleet autogas conversion process, Phillips Energy technicians typically install pump stations and 1,000- to 2,000-gallon propane storage tanks on-site at the fleet’s headquarters. Meanwhile, fleet vehicles are taken to Harris Garage, where autogas-certified service technicians install U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-certified conversion systems that include a wiring harness, an autogas fuel tank and other bolt-on hardware. Factory vehicle warranties are not affected, and bi-fuel conversions are also available, enabling vehicles to switch between autogas and their original fuel if desired.
Phillips Energy says through its partnership with Harris Garage, a pump station can be installed in as little as two days, with individual vehicle conversions often being completed in less than eight hours.
“We are proud to be further extending our service partnership with Phillips on such important and forward-thinking initiatives,” says Michael Harris, president of Harris Garage. “Autogas conversions are truly win-win propositions, and we’re looking forward to helping more public and private fleets across our region capitalize on their many benefits.”
Currently, Phillips Energy and Harris Garage are nearly halfway through a 24-vehicle effort for the City of Newport News, converting Ford F-250 pickups in their building services, water works and landscape divisions to autogas. The project builds on the 2011 conversion effort at the city that involved 22 vehicles. Separately, the city also recently added 24 new autogas-powered buses to the fleet supporting its public school system.
The City of Newport News expects to save on fuel costs by using autogas in its vehicles. In addition, routine maintenance expenses, such as filter replacements and oil changes, are reduced due to the clean-burning properties of the fuel. Further savings may be realized if federal per-gallon alternative fuel excise tax credits, which had been in place for several years, are reinstated in the future.
“I believe we’ve reached a real tipping point in the evolution of the autogas movement,” says Elizabeth Phillips McCormick, vice president of Phillips Energy and president-elect of the Virginia Propane Gas Association. “Fleet conversions will become routine as more operators become familiar with the incentives and the economic advantages at stake and their comfort level rises with respect to conversion efforts that are becoming ever more efficient in their own right.”