By Marty Kirshner, CPA, MSA
Gray, Gray & Gray, LLP
The recently enacted Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is good news for the propane industry, as it includes an estimated $7 billion in funding for propane-related initiatives and incentives. Funding for these provisions should become available in January 2022.
What’s included? According to the National Propane Gas Association, which lobbied effectively to have propane incentives included in the law, there are four major provisions that impact the propane industry:
- Grants for Charging and Fueling Infrastructure, including access to $2.5 billion in grant funding for propane refueling infrastructure along the national highway system
- Clean School Bus Program, with access to $2.5 billion in grant funding for propane school buses
- Grants for Buses and Bus Facilities, with $1.6 billion in grant funding for propane low-emission transit vehicles
- Apprenticeship Pilot Program, based on the DRIVE-Safe Act, this program seeks to address the nationwide driver shortage by permitting a trial group of drivers ages 18-21 to participate in interstate commerce
Additional provisions may also benefit the industry, including funding for emissions reduction at port facilities, workforce development, and propane-powered ferries.
What could this mean for your propane business? Any propane marketer who is not yet in the autogas market may want to consider entering. While it is a stretch to think that autogas will be widely adopted as a fuel for passenger vehicles, the product has already made inroads in commercial and public transportation circles, a niche that will certainly benefit from the additional federal incentives. The question that needs to be answered is whether the investment needed to enter the autogas market will be returned as a profitable product line.
Of wider interest may be the Apprenticeship Pilot Program, which could help alleviate the chronic driver shortage that is impacting propane and many other industries that rely on truck transportation. The 3-year pilot program will be limited to 3,000 drivers, so there may be a rush to apply when the Department of Transportation (DOT) announces the program’s start.
While the incentives and funding included in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act may offer a financial boost to the propane industry, it is essential that you pay attention to your company’s core markets and the industry’s biggest component – residential and commercial heating and fueling. Making sure you are maximizing your profit potential, operating as efficiently as possible, and taking advantage of new opportunities to expand and grow your central business are all investments in your own future.
Marty Kirshner is the Chair of the Energy Practice Group at Gray, Gray & Gray, LLP, a business consulting and accounting firm that serves the propane industry. He can be reached at (781) 407-0300 or firstname.lastname@example.org.