Ohio moves forward with truck stop electrification program

| 2/2/2006

The Ohio Department of Development has initiated a pilot program that will add electrification for parked trucks at truck stops, despite some concern that the technology might not be a perfect fit for everyone in the trucking industry.

On Thursday, Jan. 26, Ohio Lt. Gov. Bruce Johnson said in a press release his department was accepting proposals to add electrification to one truck stop test site. The program will require a minimum of 50 parking spaces to be electrified, with the contracted company matching 50 percent of the grant funds with its own money.

Funding for the project will come from a $500,000 federal grant – $100,000 of which will go toward administrative costs – from the Environmental Protection Agency’s SmartWay program, which was created to reduce diesel engine idling and create a uniform nationwide idling policy.

Holly Vendell, spokeswoman for Ohio’s Development Department, told Land Line in early February that no proposals had been submitted. However, she said a grant recipient will be announced by the end of March.

“We have spoken with several companies that we expect to receive proposals from, and we’re hopeful that they’ll continue to work with us on proposals,” Vendell said.

Vendell declined to comment on any companies that her office was meeting with. She said that although they have considered a “dual system” – a system where electricity from a pay-to-use outlet powers appliances in trucks – they are more interested in a “single system,” which relies on a single unit to provide power, temperature controls, television and Internet hookups.

“We’re looking at the single system, which … is kind of the pull-up-and-plug-in system,” Vendell said. “Truckers will basically pull into a location, and an air tube/fan-type instrument would come down and go in through the window of the cab.”

Vendell said the cost to the trucker would be considered for each proposal.

“We certainly will be looking for a program that would have a very low cost to the trucker, she said. “That’ll be part of the evaluating process for the applications.”

Paul Abelson, Senior Technical Editor for Land Line, said recent advancements in in-cab electrification systems have reduced many of the negatives associated with the technology, such as the number of parking spaces needed to create one electrified parking space.

However, he said the inability to order the service a la carte – for example, having to pay one large fee for electricity, heat and Internet when all you need is heat – makes the system less appealing than a simple shore power system.

“It’s a take-it-or-leave it. You buy the whole service,” Abelson said. “I think that the ideal situation would be to go with truck stop electrification – a post where you pay your money by credit card and get so many hours of electricity.”

– Aaron Ladage, staff writer