A total of 36 electric power outlets will help trucks at the Merchants Distributors, LLC (MDI) distribution center in Hickory cut costs and lower air emissions as part of a Duke Energy $320,000 electrification project.


Instead of running engines to keep cargo cold, transport refrigeration units (TRU) at MDI will be able to plug into power outlets at the facility. The practice will help lower exhaust emissions, and is cheaper than the practice of running the TRUs on diesel fuel. Shorepower Technologies will install the power outlets.


“Most trucks can use electricity to keep cargo cold when not driving,” said Melisa Johns, Duke Energy’s Vice President, Business Development. “This project will make that technology available to trucks at MDI’s facility—providing cost savings and an environmental benefit to the local community.”


According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), long-duration truck idling results in more than 1 billion gallons of wasted fuel and 11 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions each year. On average, an hour of idling uses a gallon of fuel.


“MDI has invested in yard management software that will help maximize the use of the new power outlets,” said Brent Vaughan, MDI’s Director, Facility Engineering. “This capability enables us to keep products cold using electricity, which is estimated to reduce fuel consumption by up to 31,000 gallons per year. In addition to fuel savings and reduced emissions, this project will also reduce noise and air pollution for our team and neighbors.”


Construction is currently underway at the Hickory installation. The project should be operational by this fall.


“Shorepower is proud to be a part of this project with Duke Energy and MDI,” said Jeff Kim, president, Shorepower Technologies. “MDI is a world-class facility with the latest energy-saving technologies. This project will further its efficiency goals and help reduce its carbon footprint.”


This is Duke Energy’s second project in North Carolina using electricity to power trucks instead of idling engines. In May, the company announced a 24-unit project at Big Boy’s Truck Stop in the Johnston County town of Kenly. IdleAir is handling that installation. It should be operational in August.


The Duke Energy programs are part of a 2015 settlement with the EPA and environmental groups.