Stimulus grants from the Environmental Protection Agency are putting millions of dollars into revamping truck stops so they can offer piped-in air and electronic services to parked rigs, allowing truckers to kill their engines to reduce diesel emissions and fuel use.
The agency’s latest such grants include $1.25 million to refit two truck stops in Alabama, and $581,849 for a project at one site in Tennessee. The one in Alabama will create or retain 70 jobs and remove tons of soot, the EPA said, while the Tennessee work will create or save 40 jobs.
At each facility, the federal money will equip 50 spaces in commercial truck stops with devices that attach to the parked truck when drivers are resting, to provide electric-powered accessories including air conditioning, telephone and computer access to the Internet.
Without such devices, drivers often keep their truck engines running to power the onboard air conditioning in summer and heaters in winter, and supply other onboard electrical needs.
Mark Bentley, executive director of the Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition, said the grant his group received will cover nearly 80 percent of the cost to put in CabAire accessory systems at two truck stops.
Those will be installed at a Merritt Oil truck stop on Interstate 65 in Montgomery, and another at Loxley on I-10 near Mobile.
The work involves building electrical facilities to power the devices, and rig the devices around truck parking spaces. The accessory devices attach through the truck windows, and drivers pay a usage fee for them.
With these, drivers who are tired or have reached their allowed hours of service can turn off their engines, sleep or take some down time away from the road but use electronics from computers to video players without draining their vehicle batteries.
Since these are considered “shovel-ready” projects that must quickly generate construction jobs, Bentley said the group has one month to get the work started after receiving its grant agreement Aug. 24. He expects the installation at both sites to be complete in about six months or sometime in first-quarter 2010.
Another potential clean-air twist, he said, is that CabAire is exploring the use of solar energy to help power the devices.
The two EPA-funded sites in Alabama will double the number of truck stops in that state where drivers will have the option of turning off their engines and using station-supplied electrical accessory attachments, Bentley said.
Right now, he said, similar systems from IdleAire are in use at a Montgomery, Ala., truck stop on Interstate 65, and another at a Bucksville station on I-20 west of Birmingham.
Contact John D. Boyd at email@example.com.