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Anti-Idling Legislation Response: Standard Truck Stop Electrification (TSE) vs.
Truck Star Systems
Truck Star Systems is the elegant solution to the nationwide No-Idle debate. The
movement to reduce diesel fumes and associated pollutants by eliminating the idling of
big rigs while at rest is gaining momentum. Truck Stop Electrification (TSE) was
introduced to provide power, heat, and air conditioning to the truck. This is a nice first
step, but falls far short of the complete solution. The shortcoming is that fuel is still
burned at the power generation plant, in other words we have only moved the location
of the pollution. Truck Star Systems balances solar power collection with truck stop
electrification, thus reducing or eliminating the pollution while reducing / eliminating the
cost of electricity. Truck Star Systems provides a lower hourly cost than burning diesel
fuel for the truck driver, moreover this is a new, increased revenue stream for the truck
stop operator, and offers a significant return on investment.
“Each year, long-duration idling of truck and locomotive engines consumes over 1 billion
US gallons (3,800,000 m3) of diesel fuel and emits 11 million tons of carbon dioxide,
200,000 tons of oxides of nitrogen, and 5,000 tons of particulate matter into the air.” (1, 2)
The problem of anti-idling is most commonly associated with heavy duty diesel engines
because they are the biggest contributors when idling. Various states and localities
have passed laws pertaining to idling. Some of the laws are more strict and stringent
than others. Thirty-one states currently have some sort of existing regulations pertaining
to anti-idling. Of these states, California has the most codes and regulations. The
California Air Resources Board has enacted numerous laws that regulate idling in the
Responses to Anti-Idling laws
Auxiliary Power Units
Auxiliary Power Units (APU) are commonly used on semi-trucks to provide electric
power to the cabin at times when the cabin or cargo need to be heated or cooled while
the vehicle is not in motion for an extended period of time. This period of time is usually
overnight when the truck driver has parked at a truck stop for some rest. Instead of
having to keep the engine idling all night just to maintain the temperature in the cabin,
the APU can be turned on to provide power. Most commonly, the APU will have its own
cooling system, heating system, generator, and air conditioning compressor.
Sometimes the APU will be integrated into those components of the semi itself. The
cost of equipment to the owner operator / fleet operator is very high. In addition the
unit’s burn fuel, generate air pollution, as well as noise. As with TSE this just moves the
source of the pollution from the truck engine to the APU.
Electrified Parking Spaces (EPS) / Truck Stop Electrification (TSE)
An EPS system (also known as Truck Stop Electrification) operates independently of
the truck’s engine allowing the truck engine to be turned off as the EPS system supplies
heating, cooling, and electrical power. The EPS system provides off-board electrical
power to operate either:
Independent heating, cooling, and electrical power system.
Truck-integrated heating and cooling system.
In both cases, the EPS system reduces main engine idling by providing an alternative
source of energy resulting in lower emissions than the main engine.
The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) estimates there are
approximately 5,000 truck stops on our highway system that provide overnight parking,
restrooms, showers, stores, restaurants and fueling stations. The DOT mandates truck
drivers to rest 10 hours for every 11 hours of driving, which means truck stops are a
vital aspect to the United States ground-delivery system. When a trucker parks
overnight, they will need a power source to keep their air conditioning, heat, refrigerator,
television, radio etc. going. If TSE is not available, idling is the only means to provide
this source of power, assuming the truck is not equipped with an APU. TSE allows a
trucker to “plug-in” to power their on and off-board electrical needs. There are two types
of truck stop electrification: single-system and dual-system. Single-system provides
power to on-board devices and requires a hose that connects to the truck. Dual-system
can power off-board devices and requires the truck to have an adapter to plug into a
120 volt outlet. Normally, private companies provide and regulate either system and
can charge an hourly rate. The cost savings of TSE service to provide overnight power
to trucks versus the cost of diesel fuel for the same duration of time can be as much as
$3,240 of fuel that would normally be consumed by idling per parking space. TSE can
allow truck drivers to abide by local idling regulations and reduce noise to neighboring
A paper written concerning the National Deployment Strategy for TSE written and
submitted June 8, 2007 discusses placement of proposed TSE locations with existing
large truck stops. The deployment strategy for placement of proposed TSE facilities
appears to be based on data from sampling the volume of traffic on Interstate highways
between major cities. In most cases, TSE facilities have been installed and are
operated by private companies funded by government grants. There is little motivation
for the truck stop owner to promote utilization as they typically receive a very small
percentage of the net profits from the system. The lacks of control, minimal utilization,
and low revenue stream have combined to leave a tainted opinion of TSE for most truck
stop facility owners / operators.
Summary of Issues with Current Technology
APU Systems are expensive and still burn fuel producing emissions and noise.
Standard TSE systems address the environmental concerns at the source (individual
truck) but simply transfer the emissions to a power generation plant elsewhere.
Standard TSE systems are owned by private entities and installed on truck stop facility
property using government grants to fund the project. Truck Star Systems addresses
this issue through complete system ownership by the truck stop operator. This provides
the truck stop operator with the incentive to ensure the Truck Star System is maintained
and actively promoted to the truck driver. This will enable the truck stop operator to
keep 100% of the revenue generated by the Truck Star System.
Standard TSE systems offer the truck stop owner a small revenue share based on
utilization of the equipment. Under the current deployment strategy, standard TSE
offers the truck stop operator less profit per hour of TSE rental than by selling a gallon
of diesel fuel.
The Truck Star System offers the truck stop operator a great profit margin on an hour
rental, several times greater than the average profit on a gallon of diesel fuel. Truck
Star System is capital equipment purchased, owned and operated by the truck stop
operator. The typical ROI on a Truck Star System is 24-30 months.
Standard TSE systems do not promote utilization at facilities where they operate,
therefore utilization is quite small. In the current environment the truck stop operators
do not operate and maintain the TSE facilities, thus there is no connection with the
driver. There is no motivation to increase utilization or challenge a truck that occupies a
TSE parking place which is not using the equipment. Since there is no direct revenue
from the driver to the truck stop, the truck stop operators’ only concern is business as
usual as if the TSE units did not exist.
Truck Star Systems
Truck Star Systems addresses the current issues facing standard TSE systems. Truck
Star Systems is a win-win solution to the Anti-Idling debate, providing the truck driver /
owner and truck stop owner with multiple benefits. This includes cost reduction, and
increases revenue, while adhering to Federal, State and local laws. Truck Star Systems
meets the core mission of Anti-Idling head on by providing a means to virtually eliminate
the pollution produced by idling trucks or by a remote power plant providing power to a
standard TSE system. This is accomplished by integrating solar photovoltaics with
recognized TSE equipment.
The solar panels that comprise a Truck Star System are highly visible commanding
attention from the road and alerting drivers to the availability of the system while in
transit. In addition, Truck Star Systems provides educational marketing materials for
drivers and training for truck stop facility employees supporting utilization efforts.
Truck Star Systems are sold as a complete system to the truck stop facility. The system
becomes a source of additional revenue for the truck stop and allows the facility to
maintain its customer base that might otherwise be lost if truck drivers must overnight at
alternate locations to comply with anti-idling laws.
Issues To Be Considered:
Truck Star Systems approach is to enable business conscious truck stop owners to
make an intelligent decision. This decision will increase their revenue and profits, while
reducing overall electrical expenses, and satisfy the EPA. The Truck Star Systems
solution has the added benefit of reducing fuel costs for the truck / fleet owner, as well
as reducing truck maintenance costs and providing the driver with a quiet, restful break
in the comfort of their own vehicle.
Every State has some form of a no idle law. Most States, if not all of them, have not
actively enforced it. Change is on the horizon. States will eventually enforce these
laws, which may provide the truck driver incentives to stop at non-monitored locations.
This will adversely affect the revenue at truck stop facilities, while circumventing the law.
Truck Star Systems addresses this issue by providing the truck stop operators as well
as large fleet owners / drivers with a viable win-win option. The truck stop operator
realizes increased profits, the truck / fleet owner realizes reduced fuel and maintenance
costs, and the driver is better rested as the Truck Star System is quieter and cleaner
resulting in a better rest period. Moreover all parties benefit from knowing that they are
each reducing the amount of harmful pollutants in the surrounding air.
The current TSE installations are few and not well identified. Generally, a driver may
not be able to identify non-idle equipment before the truck enters the truck stop. If there
is more than one truck stop in the vicinity, one may have non-idle equipment and the
other does not. The Truck Star System is quite visible from the road. The photovoltaic
structure stands out at a distance. The photovoltaic array is an icon that tells the driver
that this truck stop has a Truck Star System. It is a marketing manifestation that draws
business in a special way.
The solar components offered by Truck Star Systems not only will offset the fuel burned
at the power plant but will also reduce the cost of additional energy to the truck stop.
The effect is a win-win-win for the environment, for the truck stop operator and for the
truck / fleet owner.
Although the public, organizations, and owners concerns are slightly different, everyone
agrees that emissions impact the environment. The Truck Star Systems solution offers
a cost effective and environmentally sound solution to all stakeholders. This is not only
a new revenue stream for the truck stop owners, but it is also a way to shape our future.
Written by: Larry Jennings
After receiving a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Auburn University, Larry started a
career at Florida Power and Light Company in West Palm Beach as a Distribution
Engineer. He was later promoted to Distribution Supervisor at the Eastern Division
Emergency Services Department and later as a Power Quality Supervisor. During that
time, he was elected to Chairman of IEEE Palm Beach Section and joined the Florida
Engineering Society for a short time. Later, he was asked to contribute his expertise to
the Florida Power and Light Company Power Quality Department in the Treasure Coast
Area. Since moving to Port St Lucie, he has been politically active and served ten years
on the Port St Lucie Planning and Zoning Board. At the same time served on the St
Lucie County Board of Adjustments and St Lucie County Parks and Recreation Advisory
Board. Since retiring from FPL after thirty five years, he has enjoyed showing others
how to reduce their power bills with solar energy by representing Solar Energy Systems
located in Fort Pierce. He is presently the Advocacy Chairman for the Treasure Coast
Branch of the United States Green Builders Council South Florida Chapter and a Board
member of Florida Alliance for Renewable Energy. Larry is also a member of the
Florida Green Building Coalition, St Lucie County Chamber of Commerce and Treasure
Coast Builders Association with Florida Home Builders Association and National
Association of Home Builders.