NPGA State Director Update – Summer 2024

As your elected State Director, I wanted to provide you with an update on the activities at the most recent NPGA Annual Meeting, Summer Board of Directors Meeting, and Propane Days in Washington, DC, June 2-5, 2024. Business included Committee and Section meetings; policy discussions; a presentation on the upcoming election year; a propane bus panel discussion; a PropanePAC event; and much more. Jeff Stewart passed the gavel to Tom Van Buren, the new Chair of the Board of Directors. I encourage you to read my report.

Thank you for the opportunity to represent you.

Kara Tucker
Koppy’s Propane

See below to read report or Click HERE to read on NPGA’s Member Dashboard

Here are some of the key updates from the meetings: 

Marketers Section
Marketers Section Chair Daniel Dixon welcomed the incoming Chair, Brian Brooks, of Brooks Gas and Vice Chair Ray Galan of Ferrellgas to their new positions. Tucker Perkins, President and CEO of PERC, spoke about the opportunities and challenges the propane industry faces and emphasized the importance of safety and training. The Marketers Section held in-person regional district breakout meetings grouped together by geography as well as similarities in legislative and regulatory challenges. District 5 Director, Tom Jaenicke, provided a highlight summary of the breakout sessions.

Director of Regulatory Affairs and Associate General Counsel Kate Gaziano moderated a lively panel discussion on propane buses and Autogas. Kate highlighted several key federal grant opportunities, including the EPA Clean School Bus Program, the FTA program, and the DERA Program. She also shared propane’s success in the most recent round of the EPA’s Clean School Bus funding. The four panelists provided additional information:

  • Todd Mouw, EVP of Roush CleanTech, shared resources on supplying propane buses;
  • Scott Underwood of Altogas, Michigan Autogas Chairman and MPGA President, discussed Autogas and working with localities in Michigan;
  • John Philips, President of Phillips Energy, discussed Autogas infrastructure and customer relationships; and
  • Brad Blair of the Illinois PGA shared how Township, IL successfully converted a substantial portion of their municipal diesel fleet to propane.

Propane Days – Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill
Before heading to Capitol Hill NPGA staffers Michael Baker and Rhett Johnson reviewed NPGA’s top federal legislative policy initiatives and Tyler Levins, a Congressional staffer for Rep. Julia Letlow (R-LA), provided general guidance on holding successful meetings with Members of Congress. NPGA members and staff met with over 220 offices across the House and Senate.  The successful day concluded with a reception on Capitol Hill with Members of Congress and their staff in attendance.

PropanePAC hosted a well-attended reception honoring its donors at President Lincoln’s Cottage where guests enjoyed a tour of the President’s historic summer home.

The PropanePAC also hosted an engaging Propane, Politics, & Coffee event with Scott Tranter, Director of Data Science at Decision Desk HQ. Tranter presented an engaging overview of the upcoming Presidential election and other key races using information from real-time race calls and polling data. Tranter offered potential scenarios of election results and then discussed the possible effects on the propane industry, citing which outcomes would be most favorable.  By studying the Presidential, House, and Senate races, Decision Desk HQ election forecasting allows marketers a look into how regulatory standards and the legislative landscape may change after this year’s election.

Outgoing PAC Steering Committee Chair Stephanie Hennen of Lakes Gas welcomed Andrew Vogl of Ray Murray Inc. as the new Steering Committee Chair for the upcoming year. 

Policy Discussions
NPGA General Counsel Benjamin Nussdorf conducted a fireside chat with former FMCSA Deputy Administrator and Chief Counsel Earl Adams. The conversation touched on a number of subjects, including regional Hours of Service Waivers and the ELDT Program. Mr. Adams provided insight on how FMCSA evaluates requests for Hours of Service Waivers, and the interplay between the Federal and State governments with respect to waivers. He encouraged feedback from members on the ELDT program and how it has worked in its first two years.

NPGA State Government Affairs Manager Austin Wicker facilitated a fireside chat with Josie Montoney-Crawford, Associate Director of Public Policy  at the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA), which represents the priorities and interests of state agriculture departments. The fireside chat highlighted the important role that propane plays in the agricultural sector and the deep ties that exist between both industries. Discussion topics included reauthorization of the federal Farm Bill, workforce challenges, decarbonization efforts, and state energy choice initiatives. Across the country, 12 percent of all propane is used for agricultural applications.

Technology, Standards & Safety Updates
The Board of Directors approved two TS&S proposals to modify NFPA 58. The first was under Docket Tbpt-1916 and would scale back the requirements for when a fire safety analysis needs to be performed for a propane installation. The proposal would limit the requirement to only liquid service installations of single containers greater than 4,000 gallons, which is the threshold used to identify bulk and industrial facilities. The proposal would also eliminate the current requirement that includes the aggregation of containers of greater than 4,000 gallons, whether in liquid or vapor service.

The second was under Docket Tef-1935 and it seeks to expand the options for Autogas fuel systems to comply with Chapter 12 of NFPA 58. The code currently requires fuel systems to meet European/UN standard ECE R67.01, which is not always applicable to the modern fuel systems used in heavy duty vehicles. This proposal would continue to allow the use of R67, but it will also expand options for compliance to include documentation submitted by the original equipment manufacturer indicating that the vehicle has been qualified to the U.S. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.

Awards and Citations
At the NPGA annual meeting and Board meeting, Immediate Past Chair Jeff Stewart awarded Chair’s citations to two individuals who exemplify excellence in the propane industry: Dan Binning, Former Executive Director of the Colorado and New Mexico Propane Gas Associations, and Bruce Swiecicki, NPGA Vice President & Chief Technical Officer.

The Scholarship Committee honored Rosie Buschur of McMahan’s Bottle Gas with the 2024 NPGF Outstanding Service Award. This award is presented to a committee member in recognition of extraordinary service and dedication to the Scholarship Foundation and the children of our industry.

NPGA awarded the State Director of the Year Award to Zoe Williams of Hawaii.

Charmin Heimel of the Colorado Propane Marketing Company in Monument, Colorado and Rob Upton of Blue Flame Gas Inc. in Pueblo West, Colorado both received the Safety Award. The Safety Award is conferred in recognition of distinguished service to the cause of safety in the propane industry.

New Directors (as of June 4, 2024)

Lisa GerwitzBarrett Propane Arizona Director
Alex GallardBlue Star Gas California Director
Jim Jung, Central Farm Service Minnesota Director
Jason NasbyPro-Coop Montana Director
Lucas Malicoate4J Energy, LLC Oklahoma Director
Mark GarrisonFred Garrison Oil Texas Director
Phillip ScheelTumbleweed Propane Wyoming Director
Marci BallardChristensen USA Washington Director
Tommy ManionSuperior Plus Canada Director
Gerry GoodyMontana Energy Alliance District 2 Director
Paula SummersCivista Leasing & Finance Services Section Director
Michelle Wilson, P3 Propane Services Section Director
Travis DunhamCHS Inc. Producer & Wholesaler Section Director
Joe Natale, ChemStar, Inc.                         Producer & Wholesaler Section Director
Claudia BonucchiMAKEEN Energy Manufacturer Section Director
Steve FarkasSharp Energy, Inc. Director-at-Large
Bruce LeonardTarga Resources Director-at-Large
Tyler Misel, Georgia Gas Distributors        Director-at-Large
Paige O’Dell, EDP                                       Director-at-Large
Steve WamboldLettermen’s Energy Director-at-Large