Travel Plaza Offers Plug-In Power

The public doesn't typically associate clean air and trucking with one another, but the Sapp Brothers Travel Plaza in Omaha, Nebraska may have changed this.

During a two-day demonstration that took place at the Sapp Brothers truck stop June 12 and 13, truckers and the general public got to see how providing electricity at truck stops cuts down on environmental pollution. Other attendees of the open house included Cascade Sierra Solutions, the not-for-profit organization that provided the grant from the US Department of Energy, various industry vendors and Shorepower Technologies, the company that installed the 24-plug power stations at the travel plaza.

At the Omaha, Nebraska Sapp Brothers, as well many more of the nation's truck stops, truck drivers are finally able to take advantage of electrical connections much like the ones that have been available at boatyards and RV campgrounds for decades.

Convenient 120 or 208-volt electrical hookups allow truck drivers to run appliances and heat and cool their cabs at a much lower financial and environmental cost than simply letting their trucks idle during rest stops. Currently, Sapp Brothers is one of only two stops in Nebraska that offer this option.

Larry Johnson, the president of the Nebraska Trucking Association states that the availability of plug-in power at truck stops provides a way for trucking to be a better corporate citizen and contribute to better air quality. He goes on to say that the hookups also offer a cost-effective and reliable way for truckers to stay comfortable on their travels.

An idling truck might waste as much as one gallon of diesel every hour. With diesel costing an average of $4 per gallon, idling a semi all night could cost a trucker about $40. That's to say nothing of the strain on the truck's engine. In contrast, using the plug-in power provided at participating truck stops costs only $1 per hour.

Alan Bates, the vice president of marketing at Shorepower, says that Omaha's central location is a a key place for truck drivers to take advantage of the increasing availability of electrification at truck stops. He also states that using the power supplied at these stops helps fleets to save upwards of 60 percent on their fuel costs.

Preventing unnecessary idling means better air quality because emissions of nitrogen oxide, carbon dioxide and particulate matter are reduced dramatically. According to the EPA, decreasing idling time by 1,600 hours per year will keep an estimated 9.7 tons of carbon dioxide, a potent greenhouse gas, from being belched into the atmosphere.

Ginger Willson, the director of the Nebraska Energy Office, says that this advanced technology is an investment in the future and that it holds the promise of overhauling the trucking business while simultaneously cutting back emissions and reducing fuel consumption.

Omaha's Mayor, Jim Suttle, is excited to see Sapp Brothers pioneering the search for alternative energy. He believes that the electrical hookups will clean up Omaha's air and improve overall quality of life in the state.

The Sapp Brothers location in Omaha is only one of the 50 truck stops in the nation that are slated to get the power pedestals in 2012. It also offers six 480-volt hookups for refrigerated trailers.

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