Bay St. Louis banking on propane

Published: Apr. 13, 2012 at 11:30 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 24, 2012 at 3:09 PM CDT
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BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - Bay St. Louis leaders want to become the first municipality on the coast to convert all city vehicles and equipment from gasoline power to propane. Leaders say the switch is the smart environmental and economic choice.

The tanks on the sides of a commercial lawn mower offered the only clue that it's a propane powered mower. By next week weed eaters, leaf blowers and tractors will be retrofitted to run on propane.

"We've started by converting the entire beautification department to propane. They're going to be testing it and working out the kinks as we start to expand it into some areas," said Bay St. Louis Mayor Les Fillingame.

The first propane powered vehicles should arrive in the Bay in about a month.

"We're in the process of adding five new police cars, which are also going to be propane powered. It's dual fuel. They will run on gasoline or propane. That's probably our single largest fuel expense is keeping that fleet of police cars on the streets," explained David Kolf, Bay St. Louis City Clerk.

Right now the city spends about $10,000 a month in fuel. Propane offers a cheaper solution.

Mayor Fillingame said, "The fuel cost are about half of what the cost of gasoline are, so we're looking at huge savings on our fuel cost."

He said propane burns cleaner, which means lower maintenance costs on equipment.

"And the life span of the equipment to be longer."

But most of all he says it's a chance to buy American.

"We've got to start somewhere curbing our dependence on imported petroleum products. The vast majority of all propane and natural gas diversities are produced right here in the United States."

City leaders say the goal is to have all city vehicles and equipment converted to propane within the next three to five years.

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