Brown goes green: UPS to launch $70 million propane fleet in La., Okla.

UPS announced Wednesday that it will buy 1,000 propane-fueled trucks to deliver packages in Louisiana, Oklahoma and other yet-to-be-determined states and install 50 fueling stations at UPS locations.

The propane trucks will replace gasoline- and diesel-fueled vehicles used largely in rural areas of Louisiana and Oklahoma, with other states pending.

About one-third of the 1,000 new propane delivery trucks will operate in Louisiana, but exactly where hasn’t been decided yet, according to UPS.

The company will spend $70 million on the propane vehicles and infrastructure. UPS expects operations to begin midyear and to be completed by early 2015.

“The UPS alternative fuel strategy is to invest in the most environmentally friendly and economical energy sources,” said David Abney, UPS chief operating officer.

Propane meets those requirements. It is clean-burning, lowers operating costs and is widely available, especially on rural routes in the United States, Abney said. The decisions on where to deploy the propane vehicles will be influenced by whether states offer tax incentives and grants for alternative-fuel vehicles.

Louisiana offers a tax credit of 10 percent of the cost of a vehicle or $3,000, whichever is less.

UPS has one of the largest private alternative-fuel fleets in the nation with more than 3,150 alternative-fuel and advanced-technology vehicles, including electric, hybrid-electric, compressed natural gas, liquefied natural gas, propane, biomethane and light-weight fuel-saving composite body vehicles. UPS also operates nearly 900 propane-fueled vehicles in Canada.