The Propane Education & Research Council (PERC), meeting last week in New York, announced the election of a new Executive Committee, including the first woman to lead the organization, and authorized the staff to publish a 2014 budget plan for public review and comment.

Paula Wilson, director of marketing at AmeriGas Propane in Valley Forge, Pa., presided over her first meeting as chairwoman. Four other newly elected officers also began one-year terms:

  • Vice Chairman–Marketers: Eric Benson, J.S. West & Co. (Modesto, Calif.)
  • Vice Chairman–Producers: Michael E. Barnes, BP Energy Co. (Houston)
  • Treasurer: Robert Barry, Bergquist Inc.(Toledo, Ohio)
  • Secretary: Thomas Van Buren, Ferrell North America (Overland Park, Kan.)

“This Executive Committee really reflects the makeup of the propane industry, with marketers, producers, and equipment suppliers from companies large and small and from across the country,” PERC President and CEO Roy Willis said. “Paula Wilson is a leader who can rally propane industry members around our work to grow demand for our product, a widely available American-made fuel that helps Americans save money and shrink their carbon footprints,” he added.

At the top of the Council’s to-do list each July is the review of a budget proposal developed in collaboration with the PERC Advisory Committee.

The proposed 2014 budget of $39.6 million includes $24.2 million for program activities, an increase of $4.5 million from program funding expected in 2013. The program budget would allocate 57 percent to research and development, 26 percent to training, and 17 percent to safety efforts. The current assessment rate of four-tenths of a cent per gallon of odorized propane is expected to generate revenues of $33.2 million. The proposed budget will be posted for industry and public comment before August 1, as required by law.

“The budget proposal reflects the Council’s plan to continue creating new markets and strengthening our core markets through investments in R&D, safety, and training,” Wilson said. She noted that one of her top priorities will be getting more propane marketers involved in the promotion of newly developed products that run on propane.

The Council traditionally adopts the budget for the following year at its December meeting, after consulting with the Advisory Committee and taking into account any industry and public comments.

In other Council business:

  • Wilson announced the appointment of new Council members by the National Propane Gas Association and the Gas Processors Association. NPGA appointed a public member, Gene Bissell (Gladwyne, Pa.), and three marketer members: Robert Chalmers, JP Energy Partners (Irving, Texas); Andrew Combs, CHS Inc. (Inver Grove Heights, Minn.); and Richard Williams, Suburban Propane Partners (Whippany, N.J.). GPA appointed two producer members: Troy Andrews, Aux Sable Midstream (Tulsa, Okla.), and Steven Breckon, Lone Star NGL (Houston). The 21-member Council is made up of nine propane marketers, nine propane producers, and three public members.

  • The Council approved funding for a project to build and test a propane-fueled heat-pump air-conditioner that is suitable for residential and light commercial applications. Southwest Gas Corp. will test three units in a lab and then install and test them in the field.

  • Scott Brockelmeyer, Ferrellgas (Overland Park, Kan.), gave an update on new material for propane marketers, including the GallonGrowers Toolkits for the agriculture, professional landscape, propane autogas, and residential markets. Brockelmeyer is chairman of the Markets Working Group on the Advisory Committee.

  • The Council heard a report from Kip Creel, president of StandPoint, a research firm, on the results of a six-month study of the propane brand. The research included surveys and roundtable discussions with propane industry members, fleet managers, lawn and landscape professionals, and homeowners in propane country. The Markets Working Group is expected to review the research findings in October.

The Council approved the following funding requests while in New York:

  • Docket18141 — Residential Gas Heat Pump, $900,000
  • Docket19035 — 8.0L Product Launch Support, $355,705
  • Docket 19073 — Roush CleanTech Demonstrator Loaner Vehicle Program, $100,000
  • Docket 18269 — Ilios High Efficiency Water Heater Demonstration & Study, $157,500
  • Docket 19016 — Development of Safety Meetings Materials for Propane Marketers, $35,400
  • Docket 19051 — Propane Basics for Propane Autogas Vehicle Operators Brochure, $31,500
  • Docket 19071 — CETP Updates and Help Desk Support, $87,905
  • Docket 19075 — 2013 Propane Emergencies Program, $98,000
  • Docket 19139 — PERC Websites Consolidation, $315,510
  • Docket 19155 — Professional and Support Services, $237,900

Since April, PERC approved 57 state rebate requests totaling $1,053,550, with eight programs including requests for a total of $166,102 from the PERC Partnership with States program.

The Council will next meet October 9 and 10 in Portland, Ore.