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KSI Hosts Delaware’s Clean Cities Coalition

10/06/2014 Kent-Sussex Industries, Inc. (KSI) recently hosted a meeting of the Delaware Clean Cities coalition to update the group on KSI’s fuel and energy conservation efforts. Held at KSI’s Skill Development Center in Milford, the coalition also gave updates on its efforts statewide to foster greater use of clean fuel and energy alternatives in governmental, educational and corporate sectors.

Clean Cities is a program under the U.S. Department of Energy that embodies a national network of 100 coalitions working to reduce petroleum use in communities throughout the country. Coalitions coordinate efforts of more than 18,000 stakeholders like KSI nationwide, utilizing available funding opportunities, resources and information to facilitate adoption of new transportation technologies for cleaner, healthier communities. Delaware’s Clean Cities coalition includes members of Delaware Sustainable Energy Utility (SEC), DNREC, Sharp Energy, Chesapeake Utilities, State of Delaware Fleet Services, and AutoPort, Inc. 

The group is seeking opportunities to help State, school district and corporate fleets make better use of electric, natural gas and propane as alternative fuels to transition away from traditional petroleum sources. Also targeting poultry industry, public transportation and contractor fleet managers, the coalition seeks to increase opportunities for these entities to implement cleaner fuel options and save money in the process. 

A not-for-profit service provider for people with disabilities, KSI was a natural choice to hold the coalition’s regular meeting. KSI is part of a pilot program to explore the benefits of propane use as a fleet vehicle fuel source. With the help of Sharp Energy and Alliance Autogas, KSI converted a series of new vehicles in 2013 to operate on both gasoline and propane to take advantage of favorable market fluctuations of prices for both fuels. “We saw propane as an alternative fuel that was working. We’ve already converted six of our fleet vehicles and have plans to convert five more,” says KSI CEO, B. Craig Crouch. “I can’t say enough about how Sharp has worked with us to get that done, not only in asset management but as to service as well.”

“We are excited and proud of KSI for leading the way on converting to propane auto fuels. Propane has been a perfect fit—making their bottom line greener as well as the environment. KSI’s commitment to the use of alternative fuels serves as a role model for the rest of the state,” Delaware Clean Cities Coalition Coordinator, Morgan Ellis stated at the event. “Delaware Clean Cities will continue to work with KSI to demonstrate to other fleets across the state that there’s right alternative fuel for their fleet.” 

One of the challenges the Clean Cities coalition faces is propagating propane fueling stations in numbers that will make use of the fuel more attainable for large fleets. A concern voiced by coalition members was that employees often will not go out of their way to refuel, and that convenience was extremely important. KSI had a propane fuel station installed directly on its property, making it easier for drivers to refuel and keep the savings at maximum. 

“With KSI, our objective was getting our drivers to fuel up at KSI,” said Mr. Crouch. “If the propane tank isn’t full, the vehicle ends up using gasoline. It was key to us to have that infrastructure.”

With the alternate fuel capability in place, KSI saved approximately $12,000 in fuel costs during the first 14 months operating the initial six converted vehicles. “It’s true that propane is an environmentally kind fuel. But we travel 1.1 million miles annually with KSI fleet vehicles. So every dollar we can save on those costs is money that goes back into our programs,” Mr. Crouch explained. “And these conversions have saved us significantly on our fuel costs.”

Sharp Energy partnered with the national Alliance AutoGas to help fund KSI’s conversion kits, which truly enabled the Delaware pilot program to succeed.  “I have great confidence in AutoGas. They really stepped in and made a difference with our program,” Mr. Crouch related. “We’re on our way to really seeing this program grow.”

KSI also participated in an energy audit of its 72,000 square-foot Milford center through a partnership program between the University of Delaware’s Industrial Assessment Center and Delaware Sustainable Energy Utility (SEU). The State-run initiative has been offering energy conservation and savings advice to industrial installations since 2007, and expanded the service to help nonprofits gain education on measures to control energy use and costs. During a day-long visit in October of 2013, professional auditors and University of Delaware students identified initiatives that could save the organization up to $15,000 a year in energy costs.