DISH Network deployed 47 propane autogas vans in Southern California to reduce fuel costs and emissions for the satellite broadcast provider as part of a roll-out of 200 such vehicles in five metropolitan areas.
Executives from DISH and ROUSH CleanTech, the vehicle modifier who converted Ford E-250 vans to run on the alternative fuel, unveiled the vans at the Hawthorne offices of DISH during a March 21 press conference.
"DISH is proud to begin deploying a vehicle fleet in the L.A. area that emits fewer greenhouse gases and uses a domestically sourced fuel," said Erik Carlson, executive vice president of service and installation at DISH. "This is just part of our larger propane autogas fleet rollout and we look forward to rolling out more across the country."
In addition to the new vehicles, DISH has set up 10 on-site fueling locations in a partnership with Ferrellgas, which installed the equipment and storage tanks. At the Hawthorne office, a 1,000-gallon tank services 26 propane autogas vehicles. Ferrellgas refills the tank two to three times per week at a cost of about $2.30 per gallon.
Technicians fill up their vans at the end of each shift, so they're ready for deployment in the morning, said Frank Sandoval, the Hawthorne office's general manager.
"We always close to open," Sandoval said. "When the techs come in in the morning, they have a van that's ready to go."
Drivers have only a slight adjustment to make with the vehicles. Unlike a gasoline engine that starts right up, a propane fuel delivery system carries a seven-second lag for the fuel to reach the engine. The vans don't lose power or sound any different that a gasoline vehicle.
"It runs the same and sounds the same," said Kamal Ali, a DISH field service manager in Hawthorne. "Once it turns over, you can hear the van injecting the fuel."
By Paul Clinton
Editor's note: View a full photo gallery showing the fueling procedure and cargo area set up of the DISH/ROUSH CleanTech service van.