New rules from the Environmental Protection Agency that call for a shift to cleaner-running machines start this year, and gas-powered landscaping equipment is one of the targets.

Five years ago only one or two companies offered propane-powered mowers; now 14 do, and still others plan to. Propane is already a major fuel for the home in many rural areas in North Carolina, mainly because gas service tends to be unavailable.

orth Carolina is the second-largest user of propane gas,” John Jessup, executive director of the North Carolina Propane Gas Association, said. “Only California uses more.”

Natural gas is the top alternative to electricity for heating, water-heating and appliances in Charlotte, and propane doesn’t really offer advantages in cost or performance, Jessup said. So that has left little room for propane, until now as the EPA demands better pollution control.

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