Dolan Media Newswires
Portland, OR — At Jubitz Travel Center in Northeast Portland, the air is thick with the smell of diesel and the low rumble of dozens of idling 500-horsepower engines.
After traveling hundreds of miles per day, long-haul truckers pull into these miniature cities to rest. The trucks’ engines are left idling to power computers, televisions and heating and cooling systems within the trucks’ cabs, draining about a gallon of fuel per hour.
Dozens of trucks filled Jubitz’s 320 parking spaces recently, but only one rig was plugged in to one of Jubitz’s 35 electrified parking spaces, which allow truckers to plug in to a ‘power pedestal’ delivering 120-volt and 208-volt power, Internet access and cable TV service. Plugged-in trucks use only one gallon of fuel per night, saving cash and reducing emissions. But so far, few truckers are plugging in.
“The problem is they don’t understand how they work,” Jubitz fuel lane manager Lee Pederson said. “Most are willing to use it once they understand how it works.”
The electrified spaces at Jubitz were installed a few years ago by Coburg-based Cascade Sierra Solutions, a nonprofit organization that works to reduce fuel consumption and emissions in heavy-duty diesel engines, and Shorepower, which has an office in Portland.
“People like to do what is tried and true,” said Sandor Lau, development director for CSS. “A lot of our trucking clients don’t have a great relationship with the government. The government says, ‘You have to comply with this regulation to reduce pollution,’ and our clients say, ‘That will cost my business money.’”
Nevertheless, CSS and Shorepower are again partnering to install more electrified spaces at 50 truck stops across the country. A $22.2 million award from the U.S. Department of Energy will help companies install 30 electrified spaces, $6,000 apiece, at each stop.
“I used the plug-in last time I was here in Portland, when it had first been installed,” said trucker Mike Wight, who was stopped at Jubitz for the night recently. “It worked OK. But now I drive another rig, and it’s not set up for that. I think it’s a good idea, but so many trucks out there just aren’t geared up.”
Wight said long-haul trucking company North American Van Lines customizes its sleeper rigs with Shorepower equipment so they can plug in to electrified parking spaces. But other trucking companies haven’t had the time, or the money, to retrofit their vehicles.
Exhaust emitted by diesel trucks, called diesel particulate matter, is one of the deadliest pollutants, according to Lau, causing 21,000 deaths per year. Diesel trucks also consume 10 percent of all petroleum in the U.S.
“Diesel trucks are an essential part of the American economy,” Lau said. “The clothes you wear, the building materials you use and your groceries are all brought on these trucks. But there’s a cost to that.”
Green trucking jobs are on the rise. These jobs include drivers for waste management companies and biomass companies, as well as transporters of wind turbines and green building materials.
“There is a tremendous demand for drivers to transport things like wind turbines and biodiesel,” Russell said.
“With wind turbine installations, each one is seven truckloads. The turbines can weigh up to 230,000 pounds.”
But Russell says companies like CSS will make the transition to cleaner diesel trucking simpler, since trucking companies can deal with them instead of the government. CSS even has storefronts at truck stops staffed with trained personnel to explain the benefits of their equipment to truckers.
CSS is still working with Shorepower to determine locations for the new electrified parking spaces. And in 2010, all diesel trucks will be required by the Environmental Protection Agency to have clean diesel engines.
As a result, trucks’ emissions of diesel particulates will be 95 percent less.
For truckers like Wight, that’s a lot of exhaust saved.
“I’ve been a trucker since 1981,” said Wight. “I’ve driven 2 million miles in my life.”