WASHINGTON -- Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) President and CEO Roy Willis addressed the second annual Governor’s Conference on Energy in Richmond, Va., on Oct. 18, asserting that propane is expanding economic development and creating jobs in Virginia and beyond.

In a presentation called “Using Domestic Energy to Create New Jobs,” Willis said the propane industry’s investment in research and development has helped bring to market propane-fueled products that help Virginians cut their operating costs and curb their carbon emissions while reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil. This creates American jobs, Willis noted, and drives new demand for domestically produced propane. Millions of Americans rely on propane every day — at home, at work, on the road and on the farm, he pointed out.

PERC’s funding for research and development affects Virginia markets served by the propane industry. For example, the council’s funding of the development of agricultural applications such as propane-fueled irrigation engines and high-efficiency grain dryers has benefited many of the commonwealth’s 47,000 farms. Beyond the farm, the funding of on- and off-road engine development has led to the availability of more than 30 propane-fueled commercial mower models and a dozen different types of vans, trucks, shuttles and buses fueled by propane autogas.

In development with funding from PERC are two propane autogas applications — the ROUSH CleanTech Ford F-650 and the 8-liter medium-duty General Motors engine by CleanFuel USA — that will provide a wider range of on-road vehicles to private and public sector fleets. These technologies have the potential to create job opportunities for both the manufacturer and the end-user.

Joe Thompson, president of ROUSH CleanTech, discussed the development of transportation technology and alternative-fuel product offerings for businesses, government and individuals. Thompson has said that for every 100 propane autogas vehicles produced at Roush CleanTech, he estimates that one new job is created at the company or in its supply chain.

Willis and Thompson, along with CleanFuel USA President Tucker Perkins, were available at PERC’s exhibit to discuss business opportunities with conference attendees.

“As a gold-level sponsor, PERC supports the conference’s primary message that energy will play an important role in the economic development, security and future prosperity of the state and the nation,” said Willis.

The commonwealth, in an effort to reduce its dependence on foreign oil and create jobs, is seeking to replace its state-owned fleet with a domestic alternative fuel.