Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
With diesel fuel prices climbing to $4 per gallon, low-interest loans can help Minnesota long-haul truckers save money, stay cool this summer, and reduce pollution on overnight rest stops.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) offers loans at 4 percent to owner-operated long-haul truckers and small trucking companies to purchase idle-reduction devices. These auxiliary power units, or APUs, are either small, 15-horsepower diesel engines or battery pack systems that can run air conditioning, heaters and electricity to power laptops while the truck's main engine is shut off.
"Best decision I ever made," said Paul Ahles, long-haul truck owner-operator. "I would absolutely recommend getting an APU. The MPCA has been great to work with."
Ahles has used his new APU on an older truck for nine months and estimates he's saving $500 per month in fuel idling costs even after deducting a loan payment and fuel and maintenance costs. Ahles averages about 266 hours of idling per month.
Long-haul trucks consume about one gallon of fuel per hour while idling. But a diesel APU will use only one-fifth as much. A 10-hour overnight rest can cost a trucker $40 with diesel fuel at $4 per gallon, compared to just $8 when operating a diesel APU. In addition, APUs help provide lower-cost temperature control that helps many truckers get a better night's sleep.
"Even if the truck driver idles just 150 hours per month that's $600 in fuel," said Mike Nelson, who runs the loan program for the MPCA. "A trucker would save more than $200 per month even with the loan payment, routine maintenance, and fuel. And reducing truck engine idling will also extend the life of their truck engine."
Small trucking companies and owner-operated fleets are strongly encouraged to request APU loan applications from the MPCA before April 23. Applications are available on the MPCA website at www.pca.state.mn.us/oxpg10a6. For more information, call Mike Nelson at (651) 757-2121, or (800) 985-4247.