Parking area lets trucks cut down on idling

City and Port Authority officials hope a new truck electrification parking area will make the air a little cleaner in a part of the state with some of the dirtiest air. 
Mayor John DeStefano Jr. Thursday joined Port Authority Chairman John Russo and city Director of Sustainability Christine Tang for a ceremonial groundbreaking near the port at Alabama and Stiles streets. There, Enfield-based CabAire will construct 14 electrification stations where trucks can operate heating, air conditioning and electric in-cab appliances without having to run the engine. The goal is to reduce the amount of diesel emissions released into the air from idling trucks.

"If you were to measure air quality in this location, this would have one of the poorest ratings in the state," DeStefano said. The mayor added he is confident the truck stop electrification project, along with other green initiatives in the city, will improve air quality and improve the health of residents.

DeStefano pointed to the recent installation of a massive fuel cell at the 360 State Street development project and then gestured over his shoulder to the energy-conserving wind turbine at Phoenix Press.

Daniel Shanahan, director of sales and marketing for CabAire, said New Haven is the first city in the United States to have an truck stop electrification system installed in a port.

The CabAire system works by providing trucks with a window attachment that allows the operator to pump conditioned air or heat into the cab, plug into electric outlets and even access the Internet. Trucks that use the system will pay to hook up to a station.

Installation of the 14 electrification stations is being paid for with a $380,256 grant from the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act administered through the state Department of Environmental Protection.

Russo said trucks drive to the port to pick up cargo, such as fuel or lumber, from ships in the harbor, and idle while they wait in line. Eighty percent of the state's heating fuel comes into the state via the New Haven Harbor port. Russo said he thinks the 14 electrification stations will be enough to handle trucks in the port, but that additional stations can be installed elsewhere in the port if needed.

Tang said the port also is in line to have electrification stations installed on one or two of its piers to reduce idling among ships in the harbor. The project is expected to be funded with grant money as well. Other concepts, like retrofitting the city's diesel-run garbage and recycling trucks, are in the works as well.

Tang listed three reasons trucks should not idle: it's illegal to idle for longer than three minutes in the port, a law that is rarely enforced; idling contributes to air pollution; and idling is a costly waste of fuel for the driver.

The only other truck electrification parking area in the state is in North Stonington. 
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