Sept. 28, 2011

Texas Puts a New Spin on Mowing

Purchasers of the new and converted propane mowers have been pleased. The engines are cleaner, no fuel is lost to spillage, all-too-common gasoline theft is averted, customer satisfaction is higher, and operators are saving on fuel costs. Most importantly, business doesn't grind to a halt on Ozone Action Days, and petroleum use is reduced by about 100,000 gallons per year.  

On hot, sunny, summer days, many large metropolitan areas in Texas suffer unhealthy levels of ground-level ozone pollution, prompting the state to declare Ozone Action Days. On these days, residents and businesses are encouraged to limit driving, wait until evening to fill gas tanks, avoid the use of gasoline-powered lawn equipment, and take other steps to reduce air pollution.

Such measures help ease the squeeze on air quality, but they pose significant logistical problems for landscaping companies and organizations with large swaths of grass to maintain. Lone Star Clean Fuels Alliance (LSCFA) and its fellow Clean Cities coalitions in Texas offered a creative solution in the form of propane lawn mowers. These mowers produce much lower emissions than gasoline mowers do, and they can be used on Ozone Action Days. LSCFA applied for funding from the Propane Education and Research Council and received $127,000 to conduct an outreach campaign and to offer financial incentives to offset the cost of propane mowers.

Through a rebate program developed with input from LSCFA stakeholders, purchasers of new propane mowers received 20% of the purchase price or up to $2,500 back. Those who paid to convert conventional mowers to run on propane received 50% of the conversion cost. Clean Cities coalitions spread the word through media outreach, email blasts, and mower demonstration days. Propane mower distributors enlisted the help of lawn equipment retailers. In less than a year's time, LSCFA distributed $100,000 in rebates toward the purchase or conversion of 52 mowers.

Purchasers of the new and converted propane mowers have been pleased. The engines are cleaner, no fuel is lost to spillage, all-too-common gasoline theft is averted, customer satisfaction is higher, and operators are saving on fuel costs. Most importantly, business doesn't grind to a halt on Ozone Action Days, and petroleum use is reduced by about 100,000 gallons per year.

LSCFA distributed the last propane mower rebate in October 2010, but the project's momentum is still evident in the Texas landscaping world and beyond. Program participants included some of the state's largest landscaping companies, and they have since added more propane mowers to their fleets. Some operators are so impressed by propane that they'd like to have their trucks converted to run on this affordable, clean fuel. Today, more than 14 manufacturers are selling propane mowers in Texas. LSCFA is proud to have played a part in making the state's lawns a little greener and to have laid the groundwork for similar programs in other states.

Project at a Glance
Fuel: Propane
Number of Propane Mowers: 52
Petroleum Savings: 100,000 gallons per year
Motivation: Air quality, cost savings

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