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    Propane Education & Research Council Reviews Consumer Education Campaign, Approves Engine Project

     

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    Washington, DC (December 17, 2004) — In its final meeting of 2004, the Propane Education & Research Council received a day-long update of consumer education activities and voted to continue the industry’s advertising campaign featuring the Energy Guys. The meeting, held December 9-10 in Houston, also marked the first report from the Engine Fuel Coordinating Committee, which received Council approval to fund a truck engine project with Hino Engines and IMPCO Technologies.

    Consumer Education Advisory Committee Chairman Daryl McClendon (Ferrellgas, Hinsdale, IL), along with nearly a dozen committee members, reported on the progress of consumer education activities, including work in the homeowner, homebuilder, manufactured housing, and rural hospitality markets. The Council also received a year-end report from Wirthlin Worldwide on the advertising campaign, noting that propane’s favorability rating hit an all-time high. The target audience’s awareness of the industry’s advertising (68 percent recalled advertising) as well as its favorability towards propane increased (58 percent rating). And while the measurement of the consumers’ interest in obtaining information remained flat, traffic to the industry’s usepropane.com website set new records for the number of site visitors. The Energy Guys will return to the airwaves in February.

    “When the Consumer Education Advisory Committee began its work in 1998, we were given the tremendous opportunity to begin construction of a consumer education campaign,” McClendon said. “We appreciate the Council providing us the opportunity to tell a story about a commodity—an essential energy—that many said was one of America’s best kept secrets in the energy world.”

    Red Cavaney, president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute, addressed the Council during a special presentation, providing his perspective on the industry’s advertising efforts as well as the worldwide energy marketplace.

    The Engine Fuel Coordinating Committee, created in October to replace two subcommittees from the Consumer Education Advisory Committee and Research and Development Advisory Committee as well as the non-lobbying efforts of the Propane Vehicle Council, appointed its first members and named Tucker Perkins (Inergy, Richmond, VA), as its founding chairman. The Council approved funding for an ultra-low NOx emission, 260 horsepower LPG engine based on the Hino JO8C CNG 8.0L engine. The project was endorsed by PERC’s Research and Development Advisory Committee. Project partners IMPCO Technologies Inc., Southwest Research Institute, and HINO Trucks USA, a major original equipment manufacturer of diesel engines, will develop and commercialize the engine for a 2007 debut. The engines will be tested in a full-size school bus for the Northside (Calif.) Independent School District, in street sweepers in Los Angeles County, as well as in a Ferrellgas bobtail truck.

    “This is one of the most significant engine fuel opportunities the propane industry has been involved with,” said PERC President Roy Willis. “Working with engine manufacturers, propane will demonstrate clean engines that exceed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s current and future emission requirements.”

    The Council also received a report from the Research and Development Advisory Committee and approved a request to develop a residential propane desiccant dehumidifier, which due to new indoor air regulations could have large markets in the Gulf Coast and East Coast as well as humid areas of the South and Midwest. The dehumidifier units could potentially add 200-300 gallons of off-season propane usage per year per residence.

    The Agriculture Advisory Committee presented its 2005 communications plan, announcing it will move from general communications about propane’s use in agriculture to more communications focused on specific propane technologies, including steam cultivation and the poultry house sanitizer. The agriculture committee also received Council approval to develop a request for proposals to commercialize covered burners for flame cultivation, a technology that has a large potential market in organic farming.

    Councilors also received an update from the Safety and Training Advisory Committee on the Certified Employee Training Program (CETP) e-learning initiative, which began in October. The e-learning project team held a kickoff meeting on October 21 in Chicago and also met the week of November 8 to participate in an instructor-led CETP Basic Practices and Principles course. The team members talked to CETP students to learn more about e-learning’s potential users and visited small and large propane facilities to determine student and trainer needs.

    The Council approved funding for the following grants:

     

    Agriculture
    Docket 11650
    – Propane Engine-Driven Electrical Genset Prototype, Autumn Wind Associates, $11,000
    Docket 11651 – 2005 Agriculture Communications Plan, Osborn & Barr, $493,945

     

    Consumer Education
    Docket 11571
    – 2005 Homeowner Advertising and Outreach Plan, PERC, $17,370,000
    Docket 11572 – 2005 Consumer Education Partnership With States, PERC, $4,000,000
    Docket 11573 – 2005 Homebuilder Outreach and Advertising Plan, PERC, $275,000
    Docket 11574 – 2006 International Builders’ Show, PERC, $130,000
    Docket 11575 – Manufactured Housing Initiative, PERC, $305,000
    Docket 11576 – 2005 Engine Fuel Outreach Program, PERC, $625,000
    Docket 11577 – 2005 Rural Hospitality Outreach Program, PERC, $200,000
    Docket 11578 – 2005 Trade Advertising, PERC, $50,000
    Docket 11579 – Find A Propane Retailer and Fulfillment, PERC, $225,000
    Docket 11580 – 2005 Industry and Multi-Audience Communications, PERC, $831,870
    Docket 11581 – 2005 Measurement and Evaluation Program, PERC, $500,000
    Docket 11582 – CEAC Operational Budget, PERC, $96,000

     

    Industry Programs
    Docket 11644
    – 2205 Industry Tradeshows/NPGA Meetings Strategy, PERC, $287,000
    Docket 11645 – 2005 Outreach to the States Strategy, PERC, $70,000
    Docket 11647 – 2004 NGL Study, PERC, $92,945
    Docket 11648 – Information Technology: Ongoing Maintenance, PERC, $97,600

     

    Research & Development
    Docket 11552
    – Residential Propane Desiccant Dehumidifier, AFRED, $125,000
    Docket 11553 – Heavy-Duty Low NOx Hino LPG Truck and Bus Engine, IMPCO Technologies Inc., $1,202,000
    Docket 11629 – Research and Development Oversight and Advisory Committee Support, PERC, $120,000
    Docket 11642 – Worldwide Technology Coordination 2005, PERC, $100,000
    Docket 11643 – Code Approval of Composite Propane Cylinders for Indoor Use – Phase II, Battelle Memorial Institute, $660,500
    Docket 11649 – Contaminant Remediation at Bulk LP Gas Terminals Project, PERC, $143,100
    Docket 11655 – Department of Energy Grant Funding Partnership, $125,000

     

    Safety & Training
    Docket 11652
    – 2005 Management Contract Activities, PERC, $222,750
    Docket 11600 – Marketer Compliance Newsletter and Regulatory Updates, PERC, $72,500
    Docket 11562 – Safety and Training Online Resource – 2005 Support, Upgrades, and Hosting, PERC, $89,250
    Docket 11563 – 2005 Safe Grilling Campaign, PERC, $200,000

     

    State Rebates
    The Council approved 64 state rebates from 28 states totaling more than $3.5 million.  Of that amount, over $450,000 in Consumer Education Partnership with States Program funds (matching dollars) were granted to 16 states.

    The Council is scheduled to meet via conference call on February 17, 2005. The next in-person meeting is scheduled for March 31-April 1, 2005, in Atlanta, GA.