Lawn care company goes to propane power

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - The owner of a South Mississippi lawn care company no longer worries about increasing gas prices. That's because he's converting his fleet of commercial lawn mowers to run on propane instead of gasoline.

Bill Roberts is hoping he's a trend setter.  The owner of Sharper Image Lawn Care company is convinced that propane power will not only save his customers some money, but will also have much less impact on the environment.

Look closely at the back of Bill Roberts' new lawn mower and you'll notice a strange looking cylinder. That's the propane tank that's replaced the traditional gas tank.

"I look at this as an opportunity to get in on the front end, the cutting edge if you will, of green fuel," said Roberts.

Cleaner burning propane has far less impact on the environment than the carbon emissions from gas burning mowers. But the bottom line for small business owners is cost.

"I'm able to save my customers money. It costs me less to operate. The fuel costs are less. Maintenance costs on the mowers are less because the fuel burns cleaner than gasoline does. It does promote American jobs too, by the way, because propane is more than 90 percent produced here in America, so we're promoting domestic jobs here as well," said the business owner.

Blossman Gas is helping Roberts convert his lawn equipment to burn propane.

"The process is actually simple. Anything that's a gasoline burning engine, we can convert it. It varies in time from the bigger mowers to the smaller equipment. Some things can be converted in as little as 45 minutes.  We have several companies on that coast that have already converted their vehicles to run on a cleaner burning propane. Shaper Image being the first in the lawn care business," said Jamie Thrift, with Blossman Gas Company.

Roberts says it makes sense to embrace such green technology voluntarily.  In other parts of the country, concerns about emissions are forcing regulations on the lawn care industry.

"They have 'ozone days' and they won't allow companies to actually mow grass when the ozone levels are elevated. So, they've been forced to do this. And so I guess I look at this as an opportunity to get in on the front end," he reasoned.

The savings of burning propane instead of gas ranges from $1 to $1.50 a gallon right now.

Roberts admits there is a start up cost with the conversion, but says once that's complete, the propane power definitely means substantial savings in the long run.

Copyright 2012 WLOX. All rights reserved.