What the carbon-cutting fuel renewable propane means for homes, businesses

Published: Sep. 19, 2023 at 6:25 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

MORRISVILLE, Vt. (WCAX) - Is it a marketing ploy or a climate solution? We’re months out from the passing of the Clean Heat Standard which requires energy suppliers to reduce their carbon footprint. Now, a fuel company in Morrisville is taking an inaugural step toward cleaning up its act by offering renewable propane.

A truck containing nearly 10,000 gallons of renewable propane sits outside Bourne’s Energy in Morrisville. The company is the first to bring the fuel into Vermont for heating purposes.

“We think it’s a product that our customers want to see available and we’re really excited to be able to bring that to consumers in the state of Vermont,” said Levi Bourne, the president of Bourne’s Energy.

Vehicles with propane engines got the state’s first dose of renewable propane last summer but the heating market was yet to be hit until now.

Bourne’s Energy says the gas will be mixed in with their standard propane and distributed to homes and businesses across the state as soon as possible.

The company spent an additional 30 cents per gallon compared to conventional propane. Bourne says customers won’t be charged extra, at least not yet.

“If this is something people want to see more of and we start to bring in more over time, it could potentially drive up prices a little bit,” Bourne said.

Renewable propane is made from nonpetroleum feedstocks like natural fats and vegetable oils. While its carbon intensity-- or how much carbon is emitted during production-- varies based on the type of feedstock used, the Propane Education & Research Council reports that renewable propane is four times less carbon-intensive than conventional propane.

“Even if the green model spits back, well this is only a 10% reduction, I’ll take 10% reduction as long as it’s not petroleum,” said Ryan Lamberg, who owns Tied Branch Consultants.

Despite the renewable name, experts say burning the fuel still releases greenhouse gases.

Matt Cota with Meadow Hill Consulting says he anticipates more local fuel companies trying out options like renewable propane in the wake of the Clean Heat Standard Bill to try to stay afloat.

“Now is the time to figure out which ones work best, how to deliver them, how to get the best possible price,” Cota said.