Truck owners and operators are making the switch from idling to clean electricity, thanks to a federally funded program that provides purchase rebates for equipment that can connect with the grid to run in-cab conveniences and comforts.
The Shorepower Truck Electrification Project (STEP) still has money available to provide rebates on anti-idling equipment that cuts fuel costs as well as harmful noise and air emissions.
The STEP program includes more than $10 million in rebates toward the total cost of diesel APUs configured for electrical connections, battery-powered HVAC systems, evaporative coolers, trailer refrigeration units, cold-plate systems and plug-in connection kits, and for anti-idling equipment on new vehicles.
"We're very pleased with the level of participation in this program," said David Orton, marketing manager for Cascade Sierra Solutions, which is administering the rebate program. "Reducing idling has benefits for so many people in the trucking industry and in communities bordering busy freight corridors. The number of firms that are participating is evidence that the market is ready for this technology."
Through another part of the STEP program, 50 truck stops on major freight corridors around the country are being outfitted with electrical connections at parking spaces, so trucks can plug in while on their rest breaks and enjoy cab heating and air conditioning, appliances and communication and entertainment devices without idling the engine. Many of those sites will also have higher-voltage connections for trailer refrigeration units.
"By providing incentives for vehicles owners to install anti-idling equipment, and by providing places on the road for truckers to connect to grid power and put that equipment to work, STEP represents a huge stride toward the day when plugging in is standard operating procedure in this business, and idling is a rarity," Orton said.
"We have already begun boosting the number of plug-in sites on routes like I-5, and will be turning on the power at dozens of sites around the country this year," added Alan Bates, vice president of marketing at Shorepower Technologies, which is in charge of installing electrified parking spaces at truck stops. "Instead of worrying about whether the plug-in sites at truck stops come first, or the anti-idling equipment on trucks comes first, we're bringing both of those crucial elements to market at the same time, so drivers, vehicle owners and communities can reap the benefits."
Almost three-fourths of the rebates allocated for battery-powered HVAC systems still remain, with smaller percentages available for diesel APUs, cold-plate systems and evaporative coolers. Rebates for trailer refrigeration units have been fully allocated, although applications are being accepted on a waiting list.
"Those owners and operators who are interested in reducing idling but haven't made the commitment yet should know it's not too late to tap this financial resource," Orton said.
Under the STEP program, rebates are provided for idle-reduction equipment, for medium and heavy-duty vehicles, that runs on battery power and can be recharged and operated through an electrical connection at a plug-in site, or that has the option to run on electrical power. Idle-reduction equipment providing cab-comfort amenities runs from a standard 120-volt AC electrical connection.
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