Throwing a switch

The big news out of last month's NATSO truck-stop convention is that a major chain has signed up to get its parking spaces electrified. Knoxville-based IdleAire Technologies Corp. announced inking an agreement to install its Advanced Travel Center Electrification (ATE) system at travel plazas operated by Petro Stopping Centers. ATE provides access to electrical shore power that provides for heat and

The big news out of last month's NATSO truck-stop convention is that a major chain has signed up to get its parking spaces electrified.

Knoxville-based IdleAire Technologies Corp. announced inking an agreement to install its Advanced Travel Center Electrification (ATE) system at “travel plazas” operated by Petro Stopping Centers.

ATE provides access to electrical “shore power” that provides for heat and air conditioning (HVAC) functioning, as well as access to phone, cable and Internet hookups, all while a truck's engine is shut off.

“We immediately recognized the synergy between IdleAire's technology solutions and Petro's adoption of leading-edge solutions for the travel center industry,” said David Everhart, IdleAire's senior vp for strategic relations. “We are pleased to be working with Petro, whose reputation for quality service and attention to drivers' needs leads the industry.”

“Petro provides premier facilities for longhaul professional drivers,” said Jim Cardwell, Petro's COO. “So we always are looking for new offerings and services to help provide them a better home away from home.

“IdleAire's ATE is state of the art,” he continued, “and we are excited about deploying this technology to improve the drivers' environment while improving the environment for everyone by eliminating emissions from idling trucks.”

El Paso-based Petro has 56 branches in 38 states that all told offer over 14,000 truck parking spaces. The first ATE installations will be at the Petro locations in Knoxville, Atlanta, and in West Memphis, AR. Construction is expected to begin next month and the systems are to be operational at all three locations by mid-summer.

The first use of the IdleAire system began last summer when pilot versions were installed at rest areas operated by the New York State Thruway Authority near Syracuse, and at the famous Hunts Point Market in the Bronx.

At the time, John Platt, executive director of the Authority, told FLEET OWNER that it planned to let drivers activate ATE's AC power by “sliding a credit card and punching in the number of hours desired” at a cost of about $1 per hour.

IdleAire says the ATE system for Petro will include individual heating and air conditioning units mounted on a truss above each parking space.

Shore power, heat, a/c and other services are supplied via a flexible hose that connects the overhead unit to a “service delivery module” placed in the truck's window or in a special port in the sleeper.

The service module includes a laptop-type computer with 10.4-in. color touch screen used to control the heating and air conditioning unit and to access the Internet.

Along with Internet and email access, basic ATE service includes a local phone line and television hookup. Users can also purchase other business-oriented and entertainment services.

In terms of cost savings, according to IdleAire, accessing its system as needed is less expensive than idling trucks or installing additional generating equipment onboard.

As for driver comfort, the firm emphasizes that its system provides thermostatically controlled heat and air conditioning through a dedicated HVAC unit that delivers better heating and cooling than on-board systems and runs more quietly.

For more information, contact IdleAire by phone at 865-342-3600 or go to www.idleaire.com.

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