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Annual Clean Air Excellence Awards


Since 2004, the Western North Carolina Regional Air Quality Agency (WNCRAQA) has been giving special recognition to local businesses and other organizations that have gone above and beyond air quality rules and regulations to implement voluntary, innovative programs that reduce air pollution in our region.  In 2012, with the assistance of the Agency’s Advisory Committee, the awards program was updated and expanded to include more detailed guidelines and generate more interest from the local community.  This year, WNCRAQA is presenting a Clean Air Excellence Award to Alliance AutoGas (AAG) in the Special Award category.

AAG, based in Swannanoa, is America’s only complete program to transition fleets to clean burning propane autogas.  The AAG program includes vehicle technology, EPA-certified conversions, refueling infrastructure, data integration, fuel supply, and all of the training required to keep fleets up and running on autogas.  Construction is underway on the new AAG Autogas Research and Technology Center, located on Sweeten Creek Road in Asheville NC.  Once completed, the world- class center will focus on testing and development of propane autogas systems and also provide vehicle technician training.  The Autogas Research and Technology Center is expected to open in the fall of 2014.  Originally founded by Blossman Gas, the nation’s largest independent propane company, AAG is comprised of more than 90 companies nationwide, with the hub of the company being in Western North Carolina.

Autogas produces significantly fewer pollutants than gasoline, including 25 percent less carbon monoxide, 40 percent less nitrogen oxide and 12 percent less carbon dioxide.  The 105 octane rating of autogas means vehicles produce equivalent performance and maintenance is also improved as fewer oil changes are required. 

In 2013, 116,208 gallons of gasoline was displaced in Buncombe County in AAG vehicles, reducing harmful emissions by 30% from each of these vehicles and saving the participating organizations and businesses tens of thousands of dollars over a period of years in fuel costs.  Partners in Buncombe County include Buncombe County Sheriff’s Department, Biltmore Estate, Mountain Mobility, and Blossman Gas. 

The award were presented at the beginning of the WNCRAQA Board Meeting on July 14 at the Agency’s office on Mount Carmel Road.  For additional information, please contact the Agency at 250-6777, wncair@buncombecounty.org, or visit the website at http://buncombecounty.org/governing/depts/wncair.