Photo via Duke Energy

Photo via Duke Energy

Duke Energy will be heading a $320,000 project to install a total of 36 electric power outlets for heavy trucks at a distribution center for Merchants Distributors in Hickory, N.C.

Transport refrigeration units at MDI will be able to plug into the power outlets at the facility, allowing vehicles to keep cargo cold without having to run the engine. By running off of shore power, the electrification project will lower exhaust emissions at the facility as well as save money on diesel fuel. Shorepower Technologies will install the power outlets.

Construction is currently underway at the Hickory installation and the project should be operational by this fall. This is Duke Energy’s second project in North Carolina using electricity to power trucks instead of idling engines. In May, the company announced a 24-unit project at Big Boy’s Truck Stop in the Johnston County town of Kenly. IdleAir is handling that installation and it is expected to be operational in August.

The two electrification projects are part of a 2015 settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and environmental groups stemming from a legal case against the company for alleged violations of the Federal Clean Air Act at some of the company’s coal-fired power plants in North Carolina. The agreement required the company to spend $4.4 million on environmental projects and donations.

Duke Energy is an electric power holding company serving 7.3 million electric customers in six states in the Southeast and Midwest.

“Most trucks can use electricity to keep cargo cold when not driving,” said Melisa Johns, Duke Energy’s vice president, business development. “This project will make that technology available to trucks at MDI’s facility – providing cost savings and an environmental benefit to the local community.”

EPA has found that long-duration truck idling results in over 1 billion gallons of wasted fuel and 11 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year. The average hour of idling, uses a gallon of fuel, according to Duke Energy.

“MDI has invested in yard management software that will help maximize the use of the new power outlets,” said Brent Vaughan, MDI’s director, facility engineering. “This capability enables us to keep product cold using electricity, which is estimated to reduce fuel consumption by up to 31,000 gallons per year. In addition to fuel savings and reduced emissions, this project will also reduce noise and air pollution for our team and neighbors.”

Originally posted on Trucking Info