Long-haul trucks idling their engines aren’t unusual. Many times it's for the comfort of the driver or the need to keep cargo refrigerated.
It also uses about 1 billion gallons of fuel a year, according to Argonne National Laboratory. That costs roughly $3 billion and 11 million tons of carbon dioxide released into the environment, not to mention wear and tear of engines.
Is there a better way? Duke Energy thinks so.
Projects funded by Duke Energy in North Carolina are getting drivers and companies to use electricity instead of running their engines.
At the Big Boy Truck Stop in Johnston County, Duke Energy worked with IdleAir to install 24 electrification units. Truckers pay an hourly fee to plug in. In addition to avoiding emissions, truckers will save around $1 an hour compared to fuel costs.
In Hickory, 36 electric outlets help trucks at the Merchants Distributors (MDI) distribution center keep cargo cold for their fleet of trucks. Shorepower Technologies installed the power outlets.
The outlook for future projects looks good as companies like MDI see electrification as a way to reduce environmental emissions and save money. The two projects, which are part of a 2015 settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and environmental groups, are expected to save more than 50,000 gallons of diesel fuel a year.
While that’s a small part of the 38 billion gallons of diesel fuel used each year by trucks on the highway, it’s just one part of what Duke Energy is doing to promote electricity as a cleaner transformation fuel for the country.
The company has been active in building hundreds of public charging stations at parking decks, libraries and shopping areas. That infrastructure is needed as electric vehicles become a growing part of the nation's auto fleet, and the effort will continue in 2018 with Duke Energy Florida installing more than 500 charging stations.
In North Carolina, Duke Energy is continuing a project that will ultimately fund more than 200 public EV charging stations under a $1.5 million grant program.