Truckers who want to use their microwave, coffee pot, laptop or other electrical equipment have needed to have their vehicle engine on in order to access electricity whenever they stop for a break.
But if they stop at the Flying J truck stop in Flag City, they can now plug into a system on the Thornton Road side of the truck stop. Air pollution regulators and truckers alike say they're excited about their ability to reduce emissions and save money at the same time.
Flying J, just east of Interstate 5, is one of 50 locations that will have the electrical plug-in system by the end of the year, said Alan Bates, marketing vice president for Shorepower Technologies, which is being paid with U.S. Department of Energy funds to install the plug-in stations. The Department of
Energy is spending more than $20 million throughout the country to promote the use of the electrical systems as an alternative to idling truck engines during rest periods.
More than 30 such stations have been installed at the Flag City truck stop. They began operation on Thursday, allowing truckers to shut off their engines when stopping for a nap or meal.
"Idling costs a lot of extra wear and tear on the engine," Sharon Banks, CEO of Cascade Sierra Solutions, a nonprofit organization from Eugene, Ore., that will administer the project.
The new system also offers a significant reduction in emissions and noise, Banks said.
"It's an idea whose time has come," Bates said at a dedication ceremony Thursday afternoon. "This will be as commonplace as the wireless Internet."
The truck stop is offering electrical truck parking as part of the federally funded Shorepower Truck Electrification Project, which will install plug-in stations at more than 50 truck stops across the nation by the end of 2012, according to Anthony Presto, a spokesman for the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District, based in Modesto.
While I-5 will have several electric plug-in systems, the Highway 99 corridor isn't so fortunate. The closest electrical plug-in system on Highway 99 is in Fresno.
Lodi City Councilman Larry Hansen said that the new system will keep the air cleaner and reduce greenhouse gases.
Contact reporter Ross Farrow at firstname.lastname@example.org.