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Duke Energy will spend $300,000 to install a system at a truck stop off Interstate 95 in Kenly that will let truckers plug their rigs in rather than let their diesel engines idle.
The electrification project at Big Boy’s Truck Stop will save an estimated 25,000 gallons of fuel each year and curb the emissions of up to 24 trucks at a time, according to the company. There will also be four plugs to power refrigerated trailers, so truckers won’t need to run diesel compressors.
“The economic and environmental aspects of the projects are terrific,” said Melisa Johns, Duke Energy’s vice president for business development. “It allows drivers to use technology to lower their own carbon footprint in the course of their daily work.”
The project is one result from the settlement of a pollution lawsuit with the Environmental Protection Agency and environmental groups in 2015. Duke Energy agreed to pay a $975,000 fine and spend $4.4 million on environmental projects that alleged air pollution violations at the company’s coal-fired power plants. Duke denied that the plants were out of compliance but says it settled the lawsuit to avoid the costs and uncertainty of litigation.
The Kenly system will be installed by IdleAir of Knoxville, Tenn., before the start of summer. While truckers will save on fuel, they will have to pay for the electricity that powers their heat or air conditioning and TVs and other appliances in their cabs. IdleAir says drivers come out ahead financially by plugging in, and they don’t have to breathe in their own exhaust.
It’s the first truck stop electrification project underwritten by Duke Energy, but the company hopes to do more, said spokesman Randy Wheeless.
Much of Duke’s spending under the 2015 lawsuit settlement involves facilitating the use of electric vehicles. The company has paid for installation of more than 200 electric vehicle charging stations around the state and helped the Greensboro Department of Transportation install a charging station for a future fleet of electric city buses. It also paid for solar power systems at seven public schools, including East Chapel Hill High School.