New Jersey truckers can claim $17,000 in free idling reduction money

| 6/8/2007

Help may be on the way for New Jersey-based truckers whose profits are shrinking during hot weather and rising fuel prices.

Beginning this spring, certain New Jersey-based truckers are eligible to receive up to $17,000 each in reimbursements for auxiliary power units and other emission reduction technology.

As of mid-June, however, less than 20 percent of the state’s $650,000 grant fund had been claimed and only $50,000 had actually been issued. That lack of participation frustrates Gail Toth, executive director of the New Jersey Motor Truck Association.

“This would be embarrassing if I can’t give away the money,” Toth told Land Line. “I thought it would be a lot easier to give it away.”

The program – dubbed New Jersey Trucker’s Challenge – allows drivers and fleet owners to obtain 50-percent reimbursement for an APU up to $3,500.

If truckers opt for more technology, there is even more money potentially available to them. They can receive full reimbursement – up to $17,000 – for APU purchases when they are combined with diesel particulate filters or a diesel oxidation catalyst and tailpipe emission control device.

“From what I’m hearing, the drivers like (APUs),” Toth said. “It’s quieter, more emission-free, and it’s going to help them, and it pretty much pays for itself.”

The grant program is restricted to owner-operators and fleets with five trucks or less. Trucks must have 1994 or newer engines and must be domiciled in New Jersey, Toth said.

For more information and applications which are available on the New Jersey Motor Truck Association’s Web site, click here.

Several truckers have told Toth they can’t afford to float the estimated $9,500 cost of the most popular APU before reimbursement and the one to two days of downtime for installation.

“It’s somewhat disappointing, but I understand – you can’t give up your vehicle and miss two days of pay,” Toth said. “The small guys – they really don’t have the money for investment.”

The grant program also stipulates that the trucks must operate 50 percent of their total running time in New Jersey. That requirement, Toth says, is difficult to meet, considering New Jersey’s geography and the relatively small size of states surrounding the Garden State.

Toth’s association will request the that the operating area restriction be expanded to include surrounding areas, she said.

“We’re going to be asking for more of a regional approach – a lot of our guys might go up to New England and on the way home stop and use their APU,” Toth said.

An increase in anti-idling legislation in recent years has made more drivers subject to expensive fines for idling even during lunch breaks, Toth said.

APUs can help New Jersey drivers – most of which are within an hour of New York City – from facing fines for idling longer than the city’s three-minute limit during the heat of summer.

“They can save on fuel and be a little more comfortable,” Toth told Land Line. “I have money (for them).”

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer