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Dish Lights Up Propane Vans

Dish Network plans to introduce 200 new propane-fueled Ford E-250 cargo vans into its service fleet in 2013, which the satellite operator estimates will cut fuel costs by 55% -- saving $2,500 over the life of each vehicle -- and reduce carbon emissions.

The satellite operator currently has more than 4,000 vans in its fleet and the 200 new propane vehicles “will replace aging vehicles in the fleet as they are added in,” Dish spokesman Aaron Johnson said.

The vans will support residential and commercial Dish customers in Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

“These clean-burning propane autogas vehicles are better for our environment, our communities and operate more efficiently,” Erik Carlson, Dish’s executive vice president of service and installation, said in a statement.

The vans are equipped with a propane fuel system from Roush CleanTech, a Livonia, Mich., provider of alternative fuel vehicle technology. In addition to cutting costs, Dish estimates the new vehicles will lower carbon dioxide emissions by 12.5 million pounds over the lifetime of the fleet’s operation compared with conventional gas-powered counterparts.

Dish said it investigated researched multiple alternative fuels, concluding that propane autogas was the best fit because of its cost savings, national availability of a domestically sourced fuel, on-site fueling benefits and OEM choices that meet service requirements. Currently, propane autogas is the only alternative fuel Dish is implementing in its fleet.

More than 90% of the propane used in the U.S. comes from domestic sources of natural gas and petroleum, according to the National Propane Gas Association. On the downside, propane is less readily available than gasoline or diesel and propane-fueled vehicles get fewer miles per tank of fuel, according to, an information resource from the U.S. Dept. of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The new Dish vehicle is on display at the NTEA's Work Truck Show this week in Indianapolis.