Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff Nathalie St-Pierre, president and CEO of the Canadian Propane Association, wants propane to get wider recognition as a clean-burning fuel.

Wider markets for propane would help boost Alberta’s economy, says industry leader

The Canadian Propane Association held a seminar in Red Deer on Friday

Propane is a made-in-Alberta resource that deserves greater recognition as a clean-burning fuel source, says the president of the Canadian Propane Association.

Nathalie St-Pierre said there seems to be only two ways of thinking about energy these days — either as coming from greenhouse-gas emitting fossil fuels, like oil and gas, or “cleaner” renewable resources, such as solar, wind or electric power

This seems to leaves propane out in the cold — which is a shame, she said, because this byproduct of natural gas processing and petroleum refining is already commonly used as a clean-burning fuel source.

St-Pierre, who attended a Canadian Propane Association seminar in Red Deer Friday, believes a greater market for propane could help bolster Alberta’s economy.

Her association aims to raise the profile of the product so it receives greater recognition for its clean-burning qualities.

Propane is a petroleum gas that, with temperature and pressure, is compressible to a transportable liquid.

It was once thought to be solely made from non-renewable fossil fuels. But it can now be produced from renewable raw materials such as waste and residues and sustainably produced vegetable oils.

“It’s 100 per cent renewable,” said St-Pierre. who doesn’t feel propane should be “ignored” any longer in the discussion about future energy sources.

She would like propane to receive the same federal subsidies as oil and diesel receive for use in northern communities. St-Pierre also wants the propane industry to be eligible for the kind of funding available for the development solar power and wind farms.

“We want to be considered as a renewable fuel,” added St-Pierre, who noted many buses and fleet vehicles are already being adapted to have propane tanks, because the cost of propane is lower than gasoline or diesel.

It would cost the average car owner about $6,000 to $7,000 to make this adaption, which is unfeasible unless someone does a lot of driving. But if government subsidies were available to bring down the cost, St-Pierre said more motorists would switch over, thereby reducing the greenhouse gases that are contributing to climate change.

She said some discussions have begun with various levels of government. For instance, the association is questioning why farmers who drive diesel-fuelled vehicles are getting an exemption from paying the federal carbon tax, yet there are no policies being developed to replace diesel with a cleaner burning propane?

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