Affordable Fuels Expands into Teller & Park Counties
by Flip Boettcher - Ute Country News - January 2016
In his continuing efforts to bring more affordable and available propane to the Guffey area, local resident Bill Betz has teamed up with Affordable Fuels from Elizabeth, Colorado, to install a large, underground propane tank on his property on the top of Gold Hill, just north of Guffey.
As part of the long, four to six month county process to get Park County commissioners’ approval, Betz needed to get the support of the community and of the Guffey-based Southern Park County Fire Protection District.
The fire department board of directors had a special meeting to address concerns and questions about the propane tank. It was a time for Fire Chief, Aaron Mandel and the community to ask questions and have their concerns addressed as well.
Also at the meeting were Gary Guagenti, co-founder, president and CEO of Affordable Fuels, and Glen Slanaker, owner and installer of Loveland Meter Service, who will be installing the propane tank. Unfortunately, James Richardson, the other co-founder, Vice President and driver for Affordable Fuels, was out sick.
The proposed site is just off of CR 102. The 18,000 gallon tank will be underground, not visible from the road. After some road work, there will be adequate access for the 3,400 gallon service trucks, the 8,500 gallon delivery trucks, and all fi re trucks according to Slanaker. There will only be filling of the large, underground tank and service trucks at the site. There will be no filling of personal tanks at the site.
Fire board chairman, Ken Thomas asked the obvious question, ‘is what you are planning to do safe?’ The short answer is ‘yes’.
According to Slanaker, there are a lot of backups and safety features with propane, a fl ammable gas. There is also a lot of insurance and training for anyone who handles propane. There are double locking hose connections, interior tank locking valves that open only with nitrogen gas, as well as many more safety features. All drivers need a Commercial Driver License and HAZMAT classes. Anyone who handles propane has to have passed a special safety class called CTAP, said Slanaker. The trucks are all inspected yearly.
Although it is an 18,000 gallon tank, it is only ever fi lled to 85 percent, like a household tank, said Slanaker. Being underground really eliminates any possibility of a tank rupture. In the highly unlikely event that would happen, the propane would sink, because it is heavy and there is no air; it cannot ignite. There is only one manhole cover on the top of the propane tank where all the hoses pass through.
The top of the tank, approximately 10 feet wide by 40 feet long, will be 18 inches underground and the tank covered in epoxy, fi lled all around with 10 to 12 inches of pea gravel and then dirt, explained Slanaker. According to an email from Betz, a propane tank of this kind is expected to be operational for at least 50 years. Guagenti said that he started Affordable Fuels with his partner James Richardson one and a half years ago. They wanted a small, low cost propane company that would be a win-win for customers and company alike, stated Guagenti.
The company is very dedicated and service is not an issue with them, regardless of day or time, stated Guagenti. They wanted to hire a full time driver from this area and use the tank site as a hub for deliveries. A few drivers have already expressed an interest in the job, he added.
Transition from an existing propane company to Affordable Fuels is simple and customers can lease a tank from Affordable Fuels or provide their own. The plan is to have a monthly route explained Guagenti, with sensors at very remote locations. Guffey resident, Rose Garland said that she and her husband had already switched to Affordable Fuels and have found them to be very reliable, their service was excellent, the transition was really easy, and their prices are great.
In case the fire department responds to a smell of propane or a propane leak on private property and has to legally turn off the propane, Affordable Fuels could be on site the next day for an inspection and to turn the propane back on, said Slanaker. Mandel has already inspected the site and is fi ne with the location and access, after some road work, he said.
Betz said that he has all the required paperwork from the county and has been working with the building department. All county and state requirements must be met. The EPA and Homeland Security have to approve the project, as well, but at this point, the tank can’t be installed until spring and there is time.
According to Betz, all he wants is the lowest price for propane and the best service for the Guffey area. Betz got involved in the propane project several years ago because of complaints he had and that he had heard of poor or no service from the propane companies, as well as different pricing for people, even on the same day, the same load.
When the community got together with these propane companies, we started to make a change in favor of us all, Betz stated. Having our own local propane tank will have advantages to all our community. It will provide lower pricing and service that other propane companies will have to meet if they want to service this area, Betz stated.
After all questions and concerns from the board members, the chief and community members in attendance were addressed, the board unanimously gave their support to the propane tank project. Thomas said the board would write a letter of support to the county commissioners with contingencies including proper propane installation, maintenance, road work and all other safety matters that were discussed.
To view the minutes of the special board meeting about the propane tank, visit www. guffeyfi re.net. For more information, concerns or questions contact Betz at: 719-689- 2153. The writer of this article is on the fire department board of directors.