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Electric power stands for truckers part of Upstate clean air effort

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By Bill Poovey
Published Feb. 24, 2015

The Pilot Travel Center on Interstate 85 in Duncan is the first Upstate location of a federally funded project providing electricity stations for parked truckers to use as an alternative to idling their diesel motors. In 2012, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control was awarded a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency diesel emissions reduction grant of $2.07 million. Convoy Solutions LLC is installing 24 truck stop electrification spaces in Duncan and 33 spaces at Latta on Interstate 95. The project is expected to be finished in March.

“One of the key ways we can continue to improve air quality in the Upstate is by identifying ways to limit emissions coming from vehicles,” said Dean Hybl, director of the regional collaboration group Ten at the Top. Brian Barnes, the state’s environmental health manager, told the organization’s Upstate Air Quality Advisory Committee in January that clean air efforts are working but need to be expanded to keep pace with stricter standards proposed by EPA.

The electricity stations allow truckers to turn off their motors, reducing emissions, fuel consumption and maintenance costs. Truckers use a power cord to connect. In Latta, a system of overhead supplied air-conditioning, electricity, cable and Internet connectivity can be used with any truck.

Georgia trucker Bobby Jackson reads information on an electrical power box in the truck parking area at the Pilot Travel Center on Interstate 85 in Duncan.
Georgia trucker Bobby Jackson reads information on an electrical power box in the truck parking area at the Pilot Travel Center on Interstate 85 in Duncan. The clean-air devices provide truckers a no-cost alternative to idling their motors. (Photo by Bill Poovey)
Hybl said that, with the Upstate and I-85 being a major freight corridor, projects like truck stop electrification “help improve air quality while also supporting business and economic development as a way for companies that move freight to reduce the amount of fuel used to move goods.” He said idling trucks, cars and school buses while parked wastes large amounts of fuel “while also polluting the air for seemingly no useful purpose.”

Projections indicate the Duncan stations will reduce emissions of the pollutant nitric oxide by as much as 9.6 tons and fine particles by 0.28 tons. In Latta, projections show a potential reduction of 13.2 tons of nitric oxide and 0.38 tons of fine particles. In a 2012 report to Congress, the EPA estimated that for every dollar spent on diesel emissions reduction projects, not including the match amount, an approximately $13 dollar public health benefit is realized.

Among dozens of big rigs in parking lanes behind the Pilot Travel Center in Duncan, Bobby Jackson, of Newnan, Ga., said he drives “up and down the East Coast” and has seen the electricity stations in use, mostly in the Northeast. Standing outside his truck in at the Pilot center in Duncan, Jackson said the new stations “are catching on. They are still new to a lot of places. Some people don’t even know about them.”

“I haven’t used one yet,” he said.

Jackson, a third-generation trucker, said he makes deliveries to the BMW Manufacturing Co. and “they just put these things in” at Duncan.

“A lot of times some truckers will have electrical systems in their trucks, and all they’ve got to do is plug in,” Jackson said.

DHEC spokesman Jim Beasley said in an email that the Pilot center at Duncan was selected by Convoy Solutions LLC, which has a national network of idle-reduction locations. He said most are near high-traffic areas and the Duncan site is close to the S.C. Inland Port.

Beasley said DHEC is “partnering with the East Tennessee Clean Fuels Coalition to promote truck stop electrification.”

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