Path to Zero
Path to Zero
2.18 - Propane as a Tool for Decarbonization

No. It’s not a mistake. Tucker is actually a guest on his own podcast. This is the first episode of Path to Zero recorded in front of a live audience at the National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO) annual conference in Portland, Maine. Tucker turns over his hosting duties to Alan Zelenka, an Oregon energy official, to be interviewed about how propane can be a tool to help states meet decarbonization goals.

Alan Zelenka is the Assistant Director for Planning and Innovation for the Oregon Department of Energy. His division works on energy efficiency, renewable energy, climate change, sustainable transportation and alternative fuels. So it’s fitting that NASEO would invite Alan to host a podcast on propane as an alternative fuel.

Tucker being interviewed by Alan Zelenka during a live recording of Path to Zero at the National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO) conference in Portland, Maine.

Tucker talked to Alan about how significantly the propane conversation has shifted in recent years
“Five years ago when we talked about propane, we didn’t talk about the environment. We talked mainly about portability and value,” says Tucker. “Today, we talk almost exclusively about the environment.”


Alan asked Tucker about the latest with innovation in the propane space. He responded with updates on innovation in 3 areas-home, energy and transportation. Tucker says work is well underway on propane stove burners that are low in NOx emissions and they should be out within a few years. “Engine technology is probably where we spend most of our time,” says Tucker. “We’ll be announcing with Cummins in about 6 months a major step forward using a propane engine.”

Alan and Tucker also talked a great deal about propane school buses. Alan says Oregon has been one of the top states in converting its school bus fleet to propane, which provides a 20% reduction in carbon compared to traditional diesel school buses.


Tucker says propane can play a more prominent role in state energy plans and policies. When Alan asked about how propane can fit in when many states are working to transition away from fossil fuels, Tucker pointed out how propane has a lower carbon intensity than the electric grid in 38 states. “I don’t think oil and coal are good, but I also don’t think that electricity made from coal or oil is good,” says Tucker. “Low carbon fuels like propane and natural gas can help decarbonize. To me, the notion that fossil fuels have to be eliminated is the incorrect. We need to talk more about how carbon needs to be reduced.”