WASHINGTON - The Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) last week received the World LP Gas Association's Distinguished Service Award, in recognition of the group's leadership in the research and development of propane technology.

WLPGA Managing Director and CEO James Rockall presented the award to PERC Chairman Bill Platz and PERC President and CEO Roy Willis during the WLPGA North American-European Summit. The summit is a meeting of global propane leaders and energy experts. PERC manages one of the largest sustained programs of research and development of propane-fueled equipment in the world.

"The award from WLPGA is a testament to the propane industry's entrepreneurial spirit and its steadfast support for what we do at PERC," said Willis. "More than a dozen years ago, visionary leaders saw an opportunity to invest collectively in propane innovation. PERC was the result. Today, PERC collaborates with government agencies, equipment manufacturers, university researchers, and safety and training experts to find innovative ways to use propane and train the people who handle it and use it."

PERC is authorized by Congress to carry out the Propane Education and Research Act of 1996. Its priorities are research and development, training and safety.

The award presentation was part of this year's summit, which was titled "LP Gas: Exceptional Energy for North America and Europe." At this stop in a global series of summits, PERC co-hosted delegates from Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America and South America to foster greater global collaboration and innovation in developing promising propane technologies.

The North American market for vehicles fueled by propane autogas is gaining momentum as more fleet operators become aware of the environmental and economic advantages of switching to propane autogas. North American industry leaders such as Roush CleanTech, CleanFuel USA, Blossman Gas, Ferrellgas, Autogas for America, and Alliance AutoGas addressed the high environmental and performance characteristics of propane autogas vehicles. That includes horsepower, torque, and towing ratings that are virtually identical to gasoline, with significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

"It was an honor for PERC to host this summit and welcome propane business leaders and manufacturers from around the world who are committed to improving energy efficiency and environmental performance through commercializing advanced propane technologies," Willis said. "Our summit produced a clear consensus to expand our work together to research and develop world-class technology that serves the needs of both propane consumers and businesses worldwide."

Summit delegates received a report from ICF International Vice President Bruce Henning that forecasts growing U.S. propane supplies from the development of abundant natural gas shale resources. These resources contain significant quantities of propane and other natural gas liquids.

"This is good news for consumers," Willis said. "Growing supplies create a practical, affordable, clean energy opportunity for homeowners, farmers and businesses that will help the United States become more energy self-reliant."

During separate sessions on the future of North American and European propane markets, summit delegates explored issues crucial to the continued success of propane autogas markets. The consensus was that the markets, while diverse, are more similar than they are different.

"Consistent government policies, continued research for state-of-the-art fuel systems, and expansion of refueling infrastructure are vital to sustaining propane autogas as the world's -- and America's -- leading alternative to gasoline and diesel," Willis said.

U.S. propane industry leaders recently agreed to use the term "propane autogas" to identify propane that fuels on-road vehicles. Already widely used globally, the autogas moniker will now be used in the United States to distinguish on-road engine fuel from home heating fuel and off-road engine fuel. With more than 15 million vehicles fueled by propane autogas on the road worldwide, including 270,000 in the United States, propane autogas is the world's most widely used alternative transportation fuel.

Summit delegates learned about availability of new vehicle platforms fueled by propane autogas from well-known manufacturers like Roush CleanTech, CleanFuel USA and General Motors. Delegates also learned about new and anticipated vehicle offerings from Blue Bird Corp., Alliance AutoGas, Impco/BRC, Collins Bus Corp., Thomas Built Buses and Freightliner. PERC will continue to provide funding in 2011 to assist with new product development, including eight new vehicle platforms currently being developed.

More information about the propane industry can be found at www.propanecouncil.org, and specific information about propane autogas can be found at www.autogasusa.org. For more information on the World LP Gas Association, visit www.worldlpgas.com