Leslie has worked in the propane and regulatory compliance industry for over 25 years, having served as director of risk management and corporate counsel for Dead River Company and bureau director for the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. Anderson is a graduate of the University of Texas and she holds a master’s degree in environmental management, from the University of Houston, and a law degree from South Texas College of Law. Leslie is active with the National Propane Gas Association, and the Energy Marketer Associations in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
MEMA: Most our members know PGANE, but for some of our newer members, can you give us a brief description of PGANE and your overall function in the industry.
LA: PGANE is a regional alternative energy trade association for the propane industry. We represent propane marketers and other companies that serve that industry in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island. Our association’s mission is to promote safety, education, and public awareness of the uses and benefits of propane. We strive to provide:
- Advocacy — Informing and lobbying policy makers, maintaining an equal playing field for all alternative energy, promoting clean energy
- Education — Educating our members, employees and the public, promoting safety, compliance, and good business practices among our member companies
- Networking — Facilitating knowledge transfer, promoting thought leadership to encourage innovation, promoting teamwork within the industry
MEMA: There’s a lot of information flying around about the environmental impact of fuel and the best way to repair the damage and create a smaller carbon footprint. In your opinion, how important is it that companies start messaging to consumers and policy makers about propane’s green story and how it compares to electrification?
LA: This messaging is more important today than ever before. Not only because sharing the environmental benefits of propane usage will increase gallons for our members, but also because propane is at risk of being unfairly penalized by our state and even our local town policymakers. We have an opportunity today to be part of the climate solution, but this will likely not happen unless the entire industry starts to tell this message. We are a small industry compared to the electric utilities, but we have a personal touch with our customers and our consumers which is our strength. We have to play to this strength by reaching out to our customers and local policymakers to educate them about propane’s role and convince them to prioritize our product. Imagine how much our industry could grow if we were incentivized the same way the state is incentivizing heat pumps today.
MEMA: PGANE and the Propane sector has been really good about educating the consumer of their renewable story. What roll did PGANE play in putting together these materials? At what point did PGANE realize that this was education that needed to be shared?
LA: PGANE and our counterpart in California the Western Propane Gas Association (WPGA) have been instrumental in leading the national charge to fight electrification and promote the environmental benefits of propane. After several years of lobbying our national associations, this year we have finally got both the National Propane Gas Association and the Propane Education Research Council on board and they are both developing national materials for our members to utilize to educate their consumers and policymakers. Members of PGANE based in Maine have been instrumental in assisting with the development of these materials and I have been actively engaged to make sure New England’s needs are addressed.
MEMA: When PGANE started the process of messaging Propane’s green story, what did the process for coming up with messaging look like?
LA: We developed our own messaging materials last year and they are based on arguments that have resonated with policymakers and legislators. PGANE dedicates enormous time and resources to lobbying at the statehouses throughout New England. We have successfully defeated carbon tax proposals in all six states over the last two years as well as numerous other propane specific bills which would have increased the cost of doing business for our members.
We based our messaging on the arguments that were most persuasive during legislative hearings. These arguments are regional and even adapted to specific states within our region depending on current events. Over the last year, PGANE mailed legislative folders about our association and Propane’s green story to all the legislators in New England. After the election, we will need to update our mailings with the newest literature and send it to the incoming state representatives and legislators.
MEMA: What are some resources that dealers can tap into in order to make a more conscious effort to educate the public on the renewable nature of Propane?
LA: We suggested PERC add an environmental tab to their website at propane.com and this is where you can find all their materials. NPGA also has materials in the members only section of their website. PGANE has handouts we’ve created on propane that discuss renewable propane and the renewable similarities with traditional propane compared to other renewables in New England. Members can contact us to receive these materials. After the election, each propane company should reach out their local state rep and set up a meeting to have them come visit their office and learn more about propane’s role in their community. We have instructions on how to conduct a tour, and handouts member can provide. We need to make sure our local state reps understand the importance of our energy and its role in the state’s energy security and need for energy diversity.
MEMA: Recently, PGANE donated electrical simulation boards, which has been amazing in the lab here at MTEC. What part does PGANE play in educating future Propane techs and how important is this training in the industry?
MEMA’s school is where many techs learn their skills and these types of facilities where students can practice and troubleshoot with hands on equipment is a vital fundamental need for our employees. Without trained safe efficient service, our industry will suffer, so PGANE fully supports the need for workforce development and this type of vital training