The long-awaited energy bill that was signed into law this summer contains three provisions that will directly benefit trucking.
Funds have been allocated for idle-reduction technology related to heavy-duty trucks, diesel truck retrofit and fleet modernization, and diesel engine retrofits.
According to Glen Kedzie, environmental counsel for the American Trucking Assns. (ATA), the $94.5-million engine-idling reduction provision (Sec. 756) is among the most significant trucking-related energy conservation programs in the bill. “The money could potentially go to APUs, ‘super-single’ tires, aprons around trucks, and truckstop electrification,” he says, bolstering EPA's SmartWay Transport Partnership.
As part of this provision, weight relating to idle-reduction technologies such as APUs, for example, will not count toward the maximum GVW limit for heavy-duty vehicles.
The diesel truck retrofit and fleet modernization program (Sec. 742) commits $100 million to fleets for modernization, including installation of retrofit technologies on diesel trucks. Preference will be given to fleets entering and leaving ports, as well as those engaged in major hauling operations. Grant recipients will be required to pay for at least half of total retrofit costs.
Also part of the energy bill is the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA), Sec. 791-795, which allocates $1-billion over five years for voluntary retrofit programs. DERA stipulates that 70% of the money will be distributed by the federal Environmental Protection Agency, and 30% by state and local governments.
Fleets with medium-duty and/or heavy-duty trucks are eligible to apply for grants and loans under DERA. A fleet is defined quite liberally in this section of the bill as “one or more diesel vehicles or mobile or stationary engines.”