A Detroit automotive engineering company is in Anchorage this week, trying to convince state officials and local business leaders to make better use of the vast quantities of propane that go unused in Alaska.
At least a few groups are on-board with the idea, but it's far from a done-deal.
Drivetrain-designers Roush CleanTech brought some propane-powered trucks up to Alaska about nine months ago to show folks it could handle the state’s tough conditions.
“The truck and technology came through with flying colors, it worked down to 55-below,” said Todd Mouw, vice president of Roush CleanTech.
Mouw has been visiting with state officials and companies that have large fleets of vehicles, promoting his propane trucks.
He took part in a summit with state officials and propane stakeholders where they shared ideas and explored ways to make propane more than just a plan.
Alaska has a lot of propane on the North Slope, much of which is pumped back into the ground.
There's just not yet the infrastructure -- think delivery lines and filling stations needed to get propane to drivers.
That's where the Alaska Natural Gasline Development Authority (ANGDA) comes in.
They're all on-board with the propane proposal and are trying to convince oil companies and contractors to make the switch to propane, and invest in the equipment it takes to make regular use of that plentiful, less expensive fuel source.
“Really all you need is a filling station and you can get started,” ANGDA CEO Harold Heinze said.
Propane supporters hope that as the technology catches on up north, that it will spread – companies, they envision, would start shipping propane on trucks and barges down to more remote communities, where energy costs have been soaring.
Mouw and others say they don’t yet have any solid commitments, but they say they only need a buyer to convert or purchase about 100 or so propane trucks to make any infrastructure investment worthwhile.
They say it's a reasonable upgrade cost and that they could have a fleet of propane powered trucks rolling in Alaska as soon as this winter.