Adult Life Programs of Hickory, NC is leading the way in their local community through the adoption of alternative fuels. Adult Life Programs is a non-profit organization that offers adult day services and transportation to individuals in Catawba County. Earlier this year, Adult Life Programs began looking for an alternative fuel option for their fleet of vans as a way to set an example in reducing emissions. Through their search, the non-profit decided on autogas, the term for propane when used to fuel an on-road vehicle. Executive Director of Adult Life Programs, Mark Bumgarner, says, “A top priority for our organization is to be a leader in the community. We saw an opportunity to set an example for the area in being more environmentally conscious with our fleet, and we are happy that the decision was made.”
After deciding to implement an alternative fuel program, Adult Life Programs started working with Alliance AutoGas (AAG), based in Asheville, NC, in April of 2019. AAG provides the technology to convert a fleet’s existing vehicles to run on propane autogas, in addition to the refueling infrastructure, and then partners with a propane provider for the fuel. Alliance AutoGas member Blossman Gas was chosen as the refueling partner in this project. Vehicles converted by AAG are bifuel, meaning they can run on propane as well as gasoline in the event that the driver is out of range of an autogas refueling location, providing drivers with added security and eliminating range anxiety. Adult Life Programs has a Ford E350 Passenger Van and two Ford Transit Passenger Vans currently running on propane autogas, which they converted this year. Bumgarner adds, “Our drivers were hesitant at first, however, they were pleased to discover how simple the refueling process is. The Blossman Gas store in Hickory has been very accommodating to our autogas needs and answering any questions we have.” When speaking on serving Adult Life Programs, Jimmy Daley, manager of Blossman Gas in Hickory added, “It has been a pleasure for our store in Hickory to take care of Adult Life Programs’ autogas fuel needs. They provide important services to our community, and we want to make sure they can continue providing those services. Blossman looks forward to helping the adult day services bring better air quality to the community while saving on fuel prices by using autogas.”
Autogas is the most widely used alternative fuel in world, with over 23 million drivers on the road globally. Its many benefits include the reduction of harmful tailpipe emissions such as CO2, greenhouse gases, and NOx, the cost savings per gallon vs gasoline or diesel, and in the U.S., the opportunity to use a domestic fuel. 99% of our nation’s propane autogas is produced in North America, meaning fleets that use the alternative fuel are also reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil. In addition, on average, autogas costs about 30% less at the pump than gasoline at any given time. Even during spikes in the price of crude oil, the relationship between the price of gasoline and autogas have held steady. When using propane autogas, the savings do not stop at fuel. Unlike a diesel engine, there are no additional fluids or filters needed to operate a propane autogas vehicle, reducing maintenance costs and decreasing fleet downtime.
If you talk to any of the 33 employees at Adult Life Programs, you will find a common theme regarding community involvement and care for their community. “Having a low participant-to-staff ratio that provides services ranging from First Aid to caring for those who struggle with Alzheimer’s disease allows individuals who need our services to stay active in the community. With the help of AAG, we are able to provide transportation to those who need it. We have found out first-hand that autogas is a reliable fuel for the individuals who need our adult day services,” says Bumgarner. Not only do individuals who participate in the adult day services receive care from Adult Life Programs, they also help give back to the community. “Adult Life Programs is very active within the area, from helping with our local soup kitchen to participating in the Meals on Wheels program. When those who are active in our programs find out we are helping in our community, they are eager to be a part
of those efforts.”
To date, Adult Life Programs has used over 1,200 gallons of autogas,
which according to EPA calculations is the equivalent planting 338 trees that grow for ten years. AAG looks forward to seeing more companies follow the progressive example set by Adult Life Programs. William Adair, an Alternative Fuel Consultant for AAG says, “Adult Life Programs has an outstanding team that is committed to serving the Catawba County community. The staff at Adult Life Programs is great to work with in regards to their autogas program.” When discussing the future of the propane autogas program, Bumgarner added “Our vans are on the road 2-3 times a day, 5 days a week. We continue to look at ways to grow our programs, and with that includes analyzing our fleet and utilizing