Philadelphia-area public radio station WHYY 90.9 FM recently published a story that StateImpact Pennsylvania picked up detailing how North Penn School District in Montgomery County converted its bus fleet from diesel to propane — yes, the very same fuel resource that Mariner East is delivering to the region.
North Penn’s transportation coordinator, Nicholas Kraynak, noted that the buses have become noticeably quieter, and the rides to and from school are more pleasant. But the conversion to propane wasn’t based on pleasantries. Kraynak himself noted that climate and financial costs were chief drivers in the decision to move away from diesel.
Diesel fuel is much more expensive than its propane counterpart, especially now that it is so much more readily available because Pennsylvania vast energy resources and the pipeline infrastructure that gets it to market. Propane also significantly reduces emissions compared to diesel combustion.
Kraynak sees the obvious benefits with propane, flashing forward: “Our plan is to eventually phase out diesel and go all propane.” Good for the North Penn School District.
Council Rock School District in Bucks County also began converting its fleet to propane in 2016, according to the report, witnessing the same steep decline in fuel and maintenance costs.
Propane school buses in southeastern Pennsylvania are only a reality because of the state’s investment in its natural resources and the subsequent energy infrastructure to deliver it.
Western Pennsylvania is rich in natural gas deposits that are piped safely across the state to refining facilities that then deliver the processed resources — ethane, methane, and propane — to a variety of end uses like fueling propane school buses.
This supply chain has been years and billions of dollars in the making.
Each chain-link relies on the other to deliver resources to North Penn School District in Montgomery County or Council Rock School District in Bucks County.
Projects like the Mariner East pipeline network need the resources from western Pennsylvania and the refining plants in Berks or Delaware counties to make these products usable.
Energy infrastructure detractors will continue to spread misinformation about the state’s energy industry but it is encouraging to see school district recognize the very real environmental benefits and embrace the value so many have worked hard to deliver.