Author Robert Walton – May 15, 2017
- Duke Energy’s plan to provide 24 “truck electrification stations” could help save 25,000 gallons of fuel each year, the utility said last week.
- The project stems from a 2015 settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and environmental groups in which Duke agreed to pay an almost $1 million fine and spend spend more than $4 million on environmental projects.
- The plug-in stations would allow long-haul truckers to run heat or air conditioning at night when many sleep in their trucks, typically idling the engine for climate control for the driver and cargo.
Duke’s announcement last week—that it will provide plug-in locations at the Big Boy’s Truck Stop in Johnston County, North Carolina — is a reminder of how much energy a stand-alone project can help save (and how freight moves around the country).
More than 2 billion gallons of diesel fuel are wasted each year by overnight idling, according to a study from Argonne National Labs. Idling is the “industry standard method,” Duke explained, of providing overnight comfort to more than 1 million drivers.
In addition to providing electricity for hot or cold air overnight, the project will provide standby power for refrigerated cargo to avoid the need to run diesel compressors. Tennessee-based IdleAir will install and maintain the stations, which are expected to be complete before this summer.
“The economic and environmental aspects of the projects are terrific. It allows drivers to use technology to lower their own carbon footprint in the course of their daily work that benefits our environment,” Duke Vice President Melisa Johns said in a statement.
The utility estimates that the project should reduce annual carbon dioxide emissions by almost 500 tons and reduce volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxide emissions by more than 2 tons.
The News & Observer points out that the project is a part of a settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, related to coal-fired power plant pollution violations.
Duke project will let truckers plug in at Big Boy’s Truck Stop
Duke Energy will spend $300,000 to install a system at a truck stop off Interstate 95 in Kenly that will let truckers plug their rigs in rather than let their diesel engines idle.
The electrification project at Big Boy’s Truck Stop will save an estimated 25,000 gallons of fuel each year and curb the emissions of up to 24 trucks at a time, according to the company. There will also be four plugs to power refrigerated trailers, so truckers won’t need to run diesel compressors.
“The economic and environmental aspects of the projects are terrific,” said Melisa Johns, Duke Energy’s vice president for business development. “It allows drivers to use technology to lower their own carbon footprint in the course of their daily work.”
The project is one result from the settlement of a pollution lawsuit with the Environmental Protection Agency and environmental groups in 2015. Duke Energy agreed to pay a $975,000 fine and spend $4.4 million on environmental projects to settle a 15-year-old lawsuit that alleged air pollution violations at the company’s coal-fired power plants. Duke denied that the plants were out of compliance but says it settled the lawsuit to avoid the costs and uncertainty of litigation.
The Kenly system will be installed by IdleAir of Knoxville, Tenn., before the start of summer. While truckers will save on fuel, they will have to pay for the electricity that powers their heat or air conditioning and TVs and other appliances in their cabs. IdleAir says drivers come out ahead financially by plugging in, and they don’t have to breathe in their own exhaust.
It’s the first truck stop electrification project underwritten by Duke Energy, but the company hopes to do more, said spokesman Randy Wheeless.
Much of Duke’s spending under the 2015 lawsuit settlement involves facilitating the use of electric vehicles. The company has paid for installation of more than 200 electric vehicle charging stations around the state and helped the Greensboro Department of Transportation install a charging station for a future fleet of electric city buses. It also paid for solar power systems at seven public schools, including East Chapel Hill High School.