Springfield, Ohio needed to cut costs throughout its city budget after funding to city governments was reduced by the state in response to the 2008 recession. One solution the city turned to was implementing propane autogas vehicles into fleets, and later adding propane-powered commercial mowers, which significantly reduced fuel costs compared to gasoline and diesel.
Propane costs the city $0.30 less per gallon compared to diesel, and $0.58 less per gallon compared to gasoline, in part because the city purchases in bulk from a local propane supplier to fill its 1,000-gallon storage tank.
“Some of our operators are fresh out of high school and have never used a commercial mower. For their first experience, propane is quick for them to pick up and our operators often end up preferring the propane mowers.”Chris Moore, City of Springfield Service Director
Springfield started using propane autogas in 2009, adding nine total propane autogas vehicles over several years. After seeing impressive results with propane autogas, the city began incorporating propane-powered mowers to its forestry department in 2016.
The city’s existing relationship with local propane suppliers from using propane autogas made the transition to propane mowers simple. Five propane-powered zero-turn radius mowers are now regularly used to maintain the city’s three public cemeteries, 320 vacant lots, and all city right-of-ways.
“Overall, it runs just like a gasoline engine.”James Willis, City of Springfield Forestry Supervisor
The forestry department likes using propane so much they’re aiming to convert all but the largest of its seven commercial mowers to the alternative fuel. For its veteran crews, the propane equipment operates similar to gasoline mowers, and the reduced emissions are a point of pride. Using propane mowers reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 17%, nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions by 19%, and sulfur oxide (SOx) emissions by 16%. Even for new crew members using commercial mowers for the first time, the learning process to operate and refuel the city’s propane mowers is quick, and the propane mowers are often preferred to gasoline or diesel equipment.
Buying new propane vehicles or converting your existing fleets to propane autogas is made easier with the rebates available from the Ohio Propane Gas Association. The OPGA is offering up to $5,000 per entity, $1,000 each for vehicles or mowers.