CoCal chooses propane-fueled mowers

September 12, 2012 -  By
Logo: CoCal Landscape

Logo: CoCal Landscape

DENVER—CoCal Landscape, which ranked No. 112 on this year’s LM 150 with $11,350,000 in 2011 revenue, has purchased 84 propane-fueled lawn mowers—replacing nearly 90% of its entire gasoline mower fleet.

CoCal chose propane-powered mowers because the domestic-fuel reduces emissions compared with gasoline-fueled mowers. Compared with gasoline, propane offers a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, cuts carbon monoxide by more than 80%, and produces fewer ground-level ozone precursors and particulate matter.

“I want to be good to the environment,” and using a cleaner burning fuel is part of that, said Jesus ‘Chuy’ Medrano, co-founder and owner of CoCal.

Propane also offers costs savings for landscape contractors, says Medrano. He estimates CoCal saves about $1 a gallon by using propane instead of gasoline to fuel his mowers.

Judy Bost, president of CoCal Landscape, notes that the company’s seven locations purchase the propane fuel from AmeriGas.  “They refill our tanks at our satellite yards with their truck,” Bost says.

Since Medrano started CoCal 20 years ago, it has grown to employ about 300. Medrano is past president of the trade organization National Hispanic Landscape Alliance. Hispanics make up an estimated two-thirds of landscape industry employees nationwide.

CoCal spent more than $500,000 to modernize its fleet of commercial mowers to run on propane.

The Colorado Propane Gas Association worked with CoCal on the switch to propane, and will reimburse CoCal $105,000 through a mower incentive program it operates, says Baron Glassgow, executive director of the association.

“Mr. Medrano is a leader among his peers and CoCal has one of the largest mower fleets in Denver,” said Glassgow. “Working with an industry leader gives us the opportunity to demonstrate to other commercial mowers how well propane works.”

CoCal is using John Deere 647A and 667A stand-on units. Deere converted them to propane using a system certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Air Resources Board, the strictest standards in the nation.

Propane offers commercial mowers other advantages besides price. Because of their lower emissions they can typically operate during ozone action days, making them more efficient than gas-powered mowers.

In addition, there is virtually no fuel spillage and loss. The EPA estimates that 17 million gallons of gasoline are spilled every year while refueling landscape equipment.

Professional mowing firms nationwide are turning to propane-fueled mowers. The Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) is offering a $1,000 incentive to qualified buyers of a new propane-fueled mower, and $500 for a converted mower. The purchaser must agree to share information about the mower’s performance for one mowing season.

According to PERC, propane is a clean burning, domestically-produced fuel that saves its commercial users money. More than 90% of the propane used in the U.S. is produced in the U.S.

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