Bottom Line
Does truckstop electrification provide us with an opportunity to reduce pollution and operating costs at the same time?

Idling is bad for the environment and bad for the bottom line. Does truckstop electrification provide us with an opportunity to reduce pollution and operating costs at the same time?

By the millions, more and more Americans are breathing dirtier air. The quality of air up and down America’s major highways, at pick up and delivery points, and in truckstops is some of the worst. So it’s no surprise that truckers, who find themselves virtually at “ground zero,” care very much about clean air.

One way to clean up the air is to learn to control the use of fuel. For truckers, that means cutting down on idling hours. Many states have anti-idling laws on the books and more are likely to follow (see sidebar). According to the Argonne Institute, a truck that idles six hours a night for a five day work week translates to six months of continuous idling, over three years. The amount of fuel consumed? Approximately 4,680 gallons. Cost at $1.50 per gallon? $7,020. NOx emitted? 4,212 pounds.

Truckstop electrification for free? In some areas, yes.

In the near future, truckers likely will be hearing about ERCs. In the South Coast Air Quality Management District (southern California area) emission reduction credits (ERCs) are big business. Cliff Gladstein of Gladstein and Associates has been involved in emission reduction programs with the trucking industry since 1993. Recently, his company helped develop a program with Waste Management, which saw the waste hauler convert to LNG engines for 120 of their new vehicles. Including an LNG fueling station, the cost of the fleet conversion project was pegged at $33 million – nearly all of which was paid for by PG&E Generating Co. Why? “Emission reduction credits,” says Gladstein. “In some markets they can be extremely valuable.”

In this case, PG&E’s Otay Mesa Generating Project needed offset credits in order to build their new 500-megawatt electric generating plant, powered by natural gas. When Waste Management agreed to convert their trucks to LNG, they reduced their emissions by 60 percent. These emission reductions, or credits, then went to the power company (which represented one-third of the total credits they needed). Without getting someone else to reduce their own emissions, the power company could not build their much-needed power plant.

Gladstein says similar ERC programs can be put together for truckstop electrification. “Theoretically,” he said, “a company that needs ERCs can work with a fleet and truckstop, then pick up all the electrification costs in exchange for the credits. In this scenario, the company would not only provide the AC infrastructure at the truckstop, but also pay for the cost and installation of the inverter/charger (including shore power package) and the AC-powered HVAC system. There would be no cost to the fleet or truckstop. The ECRs then would go to the third party needing the offsets. The only catch is that the fleet must use the truckstop, plug in and have that use documented.”

Even better, says Gladstein, the truckstop could expand the electrification and sell the credits on the open market, where a pound of NOx sold for as much as $40 last year. “Since the average idling truck generates nearly 9/10ths of a pound of NOx an hour,” explained Gladstein, “the owner of those credits could do very well.” To date, the South Coast district and the Houston/Galveston area are the only two locations with ERC trading programs. “But that’s not to say that other communities might not adopt the model,” he said, “especially with the new administration promoting market-based incentives.”

Idle reduction facts

If a truck owner were to eliminate idling, here’s the return on investment after ordering AC infrastructure on the truck: Projected return on investment (ROI) per truck:

Hours/Day
1 Year
2 Years
3 Years
4 hours
($1,240)
$320
$1,880
6 hours
($460)
$1,880
$4,220
8 hours
$320
$3,440
$6,560

Note: ROI is based on a $2,800 system purchase and installation and does not include the cost of electricity, nor the savings in battery purchases (which virtually offset each other).

Fixed Costs
• The cost of the *inverter/charger system, installed 
is $1,600
• The cost of the installed *AC-powered HVAC system 
is $1,200
• Total system cost = $2,800
*We used Xantrex as an example. For HVAC we used Dometic.

Variable costs 
National average for electricity:
• 10 amps (diversified load) X 120 volts AC = 1200 watts 
• 1 kwh = 7 cents therefore 1.2 kwh = 8.4 cents
• Based on the above information the cost for electricity is:

Hours/Day
Cost/Day
1 Year
2 Years
3 Years
4 hours
34¢
$88
$176
$264
6 hours
50¢
$130
$260
$390
8 hours
67¢
$174
$348
$522

Note: Rates for kilowatt-hour vary across the country from about 4 - 13 cents per kwh.

Fuel savings
The table below demonstrates the fuel cost for one truck that 
idles for various hours in a day for a five day work week over 
a three, 12 and 36 month period.

Hours/Day
Price/Gal.
Hrs.Gal.
Cost/Day
1 Year
2 Years
3 Years
4 hours
$1.50
1
$6
$1,560
$3,120
$4,680
6 hours
$1.50
1
$9
$2,340
$4,680
$7,020
8 hours
$1.50
1
$12
$3,120
$6,240
$9,360

Benefits not figured into ROI

Battery savings
The regular use of the built-in 3-stage temperature compensated battery charger, which activates automatically when a driver connects to shore power, will increase battery life. Based on the assumption that you replace truck batteries at the industry average of every 12 months, the projected cost savings are demonstrated in the table below.

# of Batteries
Price/Battery
1 Year
2 Years
3 Years
3
$65
$195
$390
$585
4
$65
$260
$520
$780

Engine maintenance
The reduction of engine idling will extend engine service intervals and result in a decrease in engine maintenance costs. The following is a partial list of service items that will be positively affected by a reduction in engine idling:

  • Increased intervals between oil changes
  • Increased intervals between coolant changes
  • Increased intervals between filter changes
  • Decreased engine wear

Other benefits (not factored into ROI):

  • Higher trade-in value
  • Driver recruitment and retention tool
  • Reduction in exhaust emissions may result in government rebates or, at a minimum, goodwill from the community

 

Research lists truckstop electrification as alternative to idling

by René Tankersley, feature editor

At The Technology and Maintenance Council’s (TMC) annual meeting March 15 in Nashville, TN, Terry Levinson presented “Anti-Idling Laws and Regulations,” research by Argonne National Laboratory Transportation Technology Research and Development Center.

According to Argonne’s research, 12 states (AZ, CA, CO, CT, MD, MA, NH, NJ, NV, RI, UT and WA) have existing smoke regulations. Three states (IL, ME and VT) have anti-smoke regulations under development, and two states (OR and PA) have expressed interest in regulating smoke.

The study also recognizes the national shortage of parking spaces – 458,000+ trucks with 295,000 spaces. Tractor-trailers are restricted to parking in state rest areas and on entrance/exit ramps, or paying to park at a truckstop.

Noise is regulated almost everywhere as a public nuisance, according to the study. However, noise regulations are enforced primarily against perpetual offenders.

Although all these regulations affect idling time, states and cities continue adding anti-idling laws to their books. Nine states (CT, HI, MA, MD, NH, NJ, NV, NY and VA) currently restrict idling throughout the state and seven states (CO, MA, MN, MO, NY, PA and TX) list local limits on idling. Maryland and New Jersey exempt sleepers and reefers from the idling restrictions. Connecticut also allows unrestricted idling for reefers. In the winter months, Connecticut and New Hampshire lift idling restrictions.

Despite all the anti-idling regulations on the books, Argonne’s research lists active enforcement in Boston and New York City only. Land Line has received information that St. Louis, MO, is actively enforcing idling restrictions at truckstops within city limits.

With environmental regulations tightening, enforcement could increase as states search for solutions, or they could risk losing federal funding. As a result, trucks will bear part of the emission reduction burden and states will begin focusing on non-resident trucks.

Other research, “Technology Options to Reduce Truck Idling,” by Argonne lists four alternatives to idling: direct-fired heaters, auxiliary power units, thermal storage systems and truckstop electrification.

Levels of ozone, a highly reactive gas that is a form of oxygen, typically rise between May and October, when higher temperatures and more sunlight combine with stagnant atmospheric conditions. The American Lung Association said in its annual “State of the Air” report May 1 that 382 U.S. counties received failing grades when it came to ozone air pollution, or smog. The ALA says it’s a combination of more pollution and weather and since we can’t control the weather, we have to control the pollution.

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