Advertised as “the largest truck stop in New Hampshire,” a project under construction off Route 101 in Raymond will be outfitted with plug-in power pedestals to reduce truck idling and air pollution as part of the New Hampshire State Clean Diesel Program.
Funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the state’s Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust Fund, nine plug-in power pedestals will make for 34 electrified parking spaces at the future Mega-X Truck Stop on Old Manchester Road off Exit 4, offering long-haul truckers an external source of electricity instead of having to idle their engines for power.
Under the federal Diesel Emission Reduction Act, the EPA provides funding to states for projects that reduce harmful emissions produced by older diesel engines. The Raymond site in question – which will feature a convenience store, drive-thru coffee shop, 18 fuel pumps, and more than 100 parking spaces – will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, according to town planning documents.
The project has been a controversial one locally. While it received necessary approvals from the state Department of Environmental Services and Raymond Planning Board, some residents and officials have been concerned about potential groundwater contamination from the development, as well as increased traffic of heavy-duty diesel vehicles. Others are optimistic about the revenue and job opportunities it could bring to the town, in an industrial area off the highway.
As part of the New Hampshire State Clean Diesel Program, the state, via a competitive grant process, is contracting with Shorepower Technologies to install the idle-reduction technology at the Raymond site. The Oregon-based company is known best for its truck stop electrification power service in more than 1,800 parking lots nationwide.
This month, Department of Environmental Services Commissioner Robert Scott requested $70,143 (45 percent federal funding and 55 percent VW settlement funds) from the Executive Council for the project.
In 2017, New Hampshire was allocated nearly $31 million as part of the federal government’s $15 billion settlement with VW, after it filed a complaint alleging violations of the Clean Air Act. The purpose of the state’s trust fund is to support environmental mitigation projects that reduce NOx emissions from vehicles.
“The beauty of this funding is it targets what’s called NOx, the smog-forming emissions that tend to be pretty impactful to people’s health,” said Jessica Wilcox, mobile sources supervisor at DES. “The funding is definitely going toward a public health benefit.”
Wilcox said the state’s Clean Diesel Program typically funds vehicle or engine replacements requested by towns, cities, private businesses, or the fishing industry.
The Raymond project, she said, “is the first truck stop electrification project that I’ve seen in the state. This was definitely unique.”
Scott told the Executive Council that the pedestals will offer long-haul truckers electricity and cable TV attachments. According to Shorepower, most truck drivers simply run an extension cord from their truck cab to the nearby plug-in.
“By providing truckers an external source of electricity, drivers taking their mandated 10-hour rest periods can use their vehicle’s cabin amenities (such as lights and air conditioning), space heaters, and electronics without needing to idle the engine for power,” Scott said.
Because highway trucks emit “substantial amounts of air pollutants while idling,” the pedestal installation has the potential to significantly reduce emissions each year, Scott said.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that in 2021, diesel fuel consumption in the U.S. transportation sector resulted in 472 million metric tons of carbon dioxide being emitted into the atmosphere.
While diesel engines manufactured today are cleaner than ever before because of federal regulations, millions of older, dirtier engines are still in use, as they can operate for 30 years or more, according to the EPA.
“Neighboring areas will benefit from a reduction in noise and vibration from the engines being turned off during these long periods,” Scott said. “Drivers utilizing electrified truck stops have also reported more restful experiences, which may aid in driver safety and driver retention, which is critical for easing ongoing supply chain burdens.”