Diesel emission reductions through electrification of new England produce center TRUs case study

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Courtesy of M.J. Bradley & Associates LLC

MJB&A acted as project manager to a New England Produce Center (NEPC) Transportation Refrigeration Unit (TRU) Electrification Project led by the Chelsea Collaborative, a community-based organization. NEPC, located in Chelsea, MA, is the second largest produce market in the U.S., and is the hub for virtually all produce deliveries in and out of New England.

Through grant funding provided by EPA’s National Clean Diesel Funding Assistance Program, authorized by the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, the Chelsea Collaborative, in cooperation NEPC, EPA and MassDEP, replaced diesel-powered transportation refrigeration units with electrically-powered units. The TRUs replaced under this project are used for stationary cold storage by the member companies of NEPC and other Chelsea produce vendors.  A total of 90 diesel TRUs owned by 30 different produce vendors in Chelsea were replaced under this project.  Each new electric TRU cost $13,175, with approximately 70 percent paid by the EPA grant and 30 percent paid by the produce vendors as cost-share.

The original TRUs on these trailers were powered by diesel engines that typically operated for 10 or more hours per day, up to 365 days per year. All of the diesel engines replaced under the project were more than ten years old, in poor condition, and produced significant exhaust emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx), which cause smog, and particulate matter (PM), which cause asthma, heart disease, and other acute and chronic health problems. The conversion of diesel TRUs to electric operation under this project will reduce annual NOx emissions in Chelsea by more than 29.6 tons, reduce annual PM emissions by more than five tons, and reduce annual diesel fuel use by more than 246,000 gallons. Consistent with the goals of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, this project also created or retained 2.51 job-years of direct employment in Massachusetts and the mid-west manufacturing sector in 2010.

In addition to replacing the units themselves, this project also involved the installation of necessary electrical infrastructure. The total cost of the new electrical infrastructure installed under this project was $776,000 for excavation, disposal of excess soil, installation of conduit, wiring, power poles, and electrical switch gear, and finally pavement restoration. In addition, NSTAR incurred $137,000 in costs to provide primary power to the site.

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