Need a Propane Pit Stop? Check the Map.

For propane and a Slim Jim, just check the Department of Energy's fueling station map. (image: Department of Energy)

Gasoline prices have been on a tear, but all you propane-powered car owners are still filling up your tanks on the cheap.

Last week, the average price for a gallon of gasoline was $2.96, the Energy Information Administration says. For a gallon of propane it was $2.60. Then factor in a 50-cent a gallon federal tax credit, and the prices look something like 2003.

(But it’s still nowhere as near as cheap as Venezuela. A gallon of gasoline costs less than a dime there, according to a story in today’s New York Times.)

Propane numbers like that have, in part, prompted school districts around the country to pick LPG-powered buses over the common diesel carrier. That includes the schools in Manson, Iowa, where the superintendent announced plans last month to lease six propane buses.

But when making the switch to any alternative fuel, there is always this practical consideration to make: Where do you fill up on a road trip? Check the Department of Energy’s fueling station map.

There are about 2,500 fueling stations around the country, the department estimates. But you might not pass one on your travels. More than 500 of them are in Texas, which also happens consume more than half of the propane in the country. Little Delaware has only three propane fueling stations.

And Iowa has 20. So what happens when those kids from Manson take a field tirp to the planetarium in Des Moines? We tried this imaginary route on the site’s mapping feature. If the buses are running low on the way home, they can pull over at the Heart of Iowa Cooperative fueling stop in Story City.

The mapping feature will also point travelers to the closest biodiesel, natural gas, and hydrogen pit stop by tweaking the search features.

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