Project Spotlight: Centennial School District Propane Refueling Station
Driven by reductions in Pennsylvania’s long-standing program for funding school construction projects, the Commonwealth’s public school districts are exploring new ways to secure money for addition, renovation, and new construction projects. State and federal grants are one source of alternative funding that can help ease the burden of capital projects. A grant earmarked for something as seemingly incongruent as air quality improvement and the reduction of imported oil consumption can serve as a conduit for school construction funding.
Navigating the Grant Waters
Centennial School District, a district of approximately 5,500 students in Bucks County, successfully landed $292,338 from one such alternative grant source when they secured Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) monies to convert their fleet of 72 buses from diesel to propane and construct a propane refueling station.
The DEP awarded 17 Alternative Fuel Incentive Grants (AFIG) totaling $2 million in 2017 to initiate the use of alternative fuels, develop supporting infrastructure, and improve air quality through alternative fuel use. Centennial was awarded a $44,000 grant to help defray the cost of converting 10 of their 72 buses from diesel to propane fuel. A second grant of $292,338 helped to fund the construction of a propane refueling station.
A Win-Win for the District and Community
“We’re very excited about this project,” said Centennial Superintendent David Baugh. “It was the right thing to do for both financial and environmental reasons. Converting our fleet to propane and having the refueling station is a benefit to the taxpayers, the students, our maintenance department, and our transportation department. It’s a win-win.”
Centennial turned to Reynolds to manage the construction of the station and help pursue the grant to fund the cost of building the station. “Pursuing an AFIG for school construction represented outside-the-box thinking, and we were happy to see it be so fruitful for Centennial,” said Garrett Lewis, Reynolds’ vice president of hybrid construction and grant writing specialist. “The grant’s success was the result of a team effort between Reynolds, the Eastern Pennsylvania Alliance for Clean Transportation, and the district, and was a critical piece of the project financing vehicle.”
Reynolds constructed a new propane refueling station at the district’s existing bus depot. Work included a new 18,000-gallon underground storage tank, fuel dispensing and distribution equipment, emergency shut-down system with remote shutdown stations, and tie into existing fuel monitoring station. The construction of the fueling facility will allow CSD to continue the process of converting the remainder of their 62 buses to using an alternative to imported petroleum fuel.
“Reynolds was pleased to be a part of this project that will make such a large impact on the health of the district and the environment,” said Rick Evans, president of Reynolds Energy Services. “The benefits of the project are great, including reducing air pollution, improving the quality of the air surrounding the children on the buses, and providing the district with stability in the price of fuel, helping them to budget fueling costs. The benefits derived from the conversion from diesel to propane support the district’s mission of being environmentally and fiscally responsible.”