From: David Patch, The Blade, Toledo, Ohio
Published October 25, 2005 12:00 AM

Alternative to Idling Trucks on Horizon

An end, or at least reduction, to noise, fumes, and fuel waste at truck stops is a little closer in Ohio.


The Ohio Department of Development announced that it has received a $500,000 grant from the federal Environmental Protection Agency to help pay for a truck-stop electrification program.


Installation of utility service in either of two basic technologies would allow truckers to shut down their engines during rest stops and rely on "shore power" or piped-in heating and cooling during rest stops.


"We are pleased that the U.S. EPA has provided Ohio with the funding necessary to demonstrate to truck drivers the benefits that [truck-stop electrification] can provide," Lt. Gov. Bruce Johnson, also director of the development department, said in a statement announcing the grant.


Vern Garner, the chief executive officer of Garner Trucking in Findlay, said he's well aware of electrification's benefits. The main problem, he said, is that too few truck stops have such systems, and those that do fill up their spaces quickly.


"It's a great opportunity for us. We have bought some of the window adapters from IdleAire," Mr. Garner said yesterday, naming the Knoxville, Tenn.-based company whose system provides piped-in climate control, television and Internet access, and electrical outlets through a device that attaches to truck windows.


Mr. Garner said he has no estimate of how much his firm spends on fuel burned by idling trucks. But with diesel now running more than $3 a gallon, "it's a bunch."


Federal regulations require drivers to take 10-hour rest breaks after each period of up to 11 hours driving and 14 hours overall on duty. Officials estimate an idling truck burns a gallon of diesel fuel an hour, while emitting nitrogen oxides and soot.


An alternative system developed by several competitors involves electrical hook-ups for trucks that have on-board hardware to receive the "shore power."


Holly Pendell, a development department spokesman, said state officials hope to set up at least one demonstration site each, if not more, for the shore-power and IdleAire systems.


The department expects to issue requests for proposals from vendors by January, she said, with a goal of starting construction in the spring and beginning operations in early 2007.


Locations also remain to be determined, Ms. Pendell said. The development department will consult with the Ohio Department of Transportation about which locations would give the systems exposure to the greatest numbers of truckers, she said.


Last year, IdleAire announced a development agreement with Pilot Travel Centers that makes its system the exclusive electrification technology at Pilot locations. Pilot has several truck stops in the Toledo area, including one near I-280 and the Ohio Turnpike, where four competitors also operate.


John Doty, an IdleAire spokesman, said his company expects to submit a proposal to Ohio officials. Its truck-stop locations are in a belt arcing from New York through the South to California.


Mr. Garner said his only concern about truck-stop electrification is that the hardware takes up space, reducing parking capacity, which is already tight for truckers in many parts of the country.


To see more of The Blade, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.toledoblade.com.


Source: Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News


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