Propane biz strives to pass along savings

Michael Dew has gas.

With his longtime friend and business partner Kevin Widell - owner of A+ Equipment Rentals, Inc. - Dew is providing the Clallam and Jefferson county areas with all their propane needs.

Pioneer Propane, which opened April 4, has two 15,000-gallon propane tanks at its Carlsborg headquarters and is in the process of strategically placing additional 12,000- and 15,000-gallon tanks in the Port Townsend, Forks, and Quilcene or Brennan areas.

Storing tanks in each community, as well as driving propane-fueled delivery trucks, allows the company to pass savings along to its customers, Dew said.

In an effort to stand out from other propane companies, Pioneer Propane leases and sells refurbished tanks. They don't, however, sell any hearth products. Instead, they work with local companies that do.

"We do what we do very well and then let them do what they do best," Dew said.

Dew, a third-generation owner in the propane business, reminisces about the "industry" as it was for his grandparents.

"There was no 'industry' at that point in time," Dew said.

"Just two cylinders that sat on the porch and fueled the house."

Now, the U.S. has 14.3 million residential and 1.04 million commercial propane customers, according to the National Propane Gas Association.

Propane is used for more than just barbecuing. The natural gas is used to fuel vehicles, fireplaces, water heaters, washers, dryers and more.

Some people say the key to cutting back on foreign oil consumption is to rely more on wind and solar power and then use natural gas, like propane, to power vehicles, Dew said. He, for one, has been driving a propane-fueled truck for 30 years.

Several of Widell's machines available at A+ Rentals rely on propane rather than gasoline or diesel.

"It's all about energy consciousness," Dew said.

"We take the time to help consumers get set up with (things like) gas fireplaces with individual heaters in each room and (propane-fueled) instantaneous water heaters.

"That's our No. 1 goal: to set our business up so that the consumer pays less."

Ashley Miller can be reached at ashleyo@sequim

Facts about propane:

_ More than two-thirds of all barbecue grills are fueled by propane.

_ The number of propane-fueled on-road vehicles (cars, trucks, buses, etc.) in the U.S. in 2004: 190,000.

_ As of 2000, 6.9 million Americans use propane as their primary heating fuel.

_ In 2005, 18.895 billion gallons of propane were sold in the U.S.

_ Propane is the primary fuel for hot air balloons.

_ Propane is mixed with silicone to form a propellant that's used to power gas guns used in airsoft combat gaming.

_ Liquid propane is commonly used in theme parks and in the movie industry as an inexpensive, high-energy fuel for explosions and other special effects.

'Always there,

always fair'

Pioneer Propane, 931 Carlsborg Road, is open 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday.

The Carlsborg headquarters houses two 15,000-gallon tanks and four propane-fueled delivery trucks. Additional 12,000- and 15,000-gallon tanks are strategically stored - or soon will be - in Port Townsend, Forks and the Quilcene or Brennan area. New customers are welcome.

For more information, call 683-9988 or 888-391-HEAT.

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