Imagine hordes of hurried motorists pulling into gas stations and filling their tanks with propane. Gas-and-go with the swipe of a money card. Think of all the clean-burning gallons that would be consumed should propane become commonplace as an American automobile fuel--to say nothing of the auxiliary LPG business that a public primed for propane would support.
This self-serve, pay-and-pump concept is gaining crucial traction under a program driven by CleanFuel USA and an assortment of government agencies and industry participants, including Delta Liquid Energy of Paso Robles, Calif. Other areas of the country also are seeing a pumped-up presence of quick-and-easy propane dispensers.
In the Golden State, CleanFuel and the California Energy Commission have just made it easier to drive environmentally sound propane-powered vehicles with three new card-reader pumps, now up and running 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The user-friendly dispensers from Clean Fueling Technologies and Marconi Commerce Systems (formerly Gilbarco) are serving propane customers at Main Street Shell in Santa Maria, Madonna Shell in San Luis Obispo and Delta Liquid Energy in Paso Robles.
The state's Energy Commission provided the funding for the project under its Petroleum Displacement Program. CleanFuel applied for grants last year as a part of a nationwide effort to increase the use of propane-powered vehicles. A key selling point is that the propane dispensers function exactly like self-serve gasoline pumps.
Until now, most propane-powered vehicles have had to fill up at …