AZTEC — The owner of RoadRunner Fuels says a new fueling island he is installing will be the first in the region to provide liquefied petroleum gas for vehicles.
RoadRunner Fuels, on 800 South Main St., plans to sell propane gas for vehicles within the next few weeks, said Jason Sandel, the company's owner.
"We're really excited," Sandel said.
He said he is waiting for a computerized regulator to arrive to make the fueling island operational and then he will test the pump.
Once the tests are satisfactory, then the island will be open for filling everything from vehicles to the small tanks that power backyard grills, Sandel said.
The propane will be stored in a 35,000 gallon tank.
Right now, three local trucks come to the store daily to fuel up on propane, said Christi Hurlbut, the store's assistant manager.
Sandel added that once the island is open, he hopes the station will attract freight trucks passing through the area.
"This will be the first alternative fueling station in the region," he said, noting that fueling a vehicle with propane is similar to fueling a car with gasoline.
Sandel said he has been talking to companies that plan to covert vehicles to propane.
According to the Propane Education and Research Council, more than 17 million vehicles use propane as their fuel. Vehicles from riding lawnmowers to school buses use propane as fuel.
Liquefied petroleum gas is also called autogas, according to the Department of Energy's website. In addition autogas is lighter and emits fewer emissions than gasoline.
Autogas, because it's compressed, take less space so vehicles can carry more fuel and refuel less, according to the Propane Education and Research Council's website.
But his decision to sell autogas, Sandel says is to support a type of fuel that is prominent in the San Juan Basin - natural gas.
He said he'd like to sell compressed natural gas, but the infrastructure isn't in place and he is still looking for a supplier.
Installing natural gas fueling stations can cost more than 10 times what a propane fueling station costs, according to the Propane Education and Research Council website.
But propane is a start to support the initiative to move from traditional gasoline to propane or natural gas, Sandel says.
Sandel is also the vice-president of Aztec Well Service and says the company plans to convert some vehicles to use autogas and eventually to use natural gas.
"We believe that it is critical for the future of our area to promote the use of natural gas," he said.Erny Zah is The Daily Times business editor. He can be reached at 505-564-4638. and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him @ernyzah on Twitter.