APU financial incentives

Todd Dills | September 01, 2010

Don’t endure another winter without idle-reduction equipment when there’s money to help you.


Sams Trucking LLC of New Tazewell, Tenn., paid Knoxville Thermo King close to $10,000 for each of four TriPac APUs this summer to outfit part of its five-truck over-the-road fleet with idle-reduction technology. The bill was offset, though, by Tennessee’s “Idle Smart” rebate program, which offers state-based owner-operators and fleets rebates of up to 50 percent of the cost. Sams Trucking received $4,000 back for each of the four TriPacs.


Billy Sams was able to cash in on hefty rebates from a Tennessee program that covered almost half the cost of this and three other TriPac auxiliary power units now part of his small fleet.

Nancy Sams, whose husband, Billy, drives a custom 300-inch 2001 Peterbilt 379 in their fleet, says they had their sights on the TriPacs regardless of the rebate program. However, the “free money” helped them decide to take the plunge. “That’s a lot of money to spend at one time,” she says.

Nancy reports their drivers “just love them. My husband said that if he had known it was going to be as nice as it is, he’d have put one on a long time ago.”

A fully functional auxiliary power unit run by a diesel-fired engine, with the ability to both cool and heat the cab as well as power in-cab electronics and other devices, according to the Overdrive Partners in Business manual, costs $6,000 to more than $11,000 installed. Battery-powered devices with similar functionality can come in between $4,000 and $11,000. Cab heaters can be had for $2,000 or less. Evaporative coolers (also referred to as “swamp coolers”) can be equally inexpensive if you’re cooling needs are occasional.

APU payback scenarios in the Partners in Business manual show most devices can return the investment through fuel savings and reduced maintenance (less wear and tear on the engine) in fewer than three years for the most expensive devices.

A rebate or grant reduces the payback time further. In addition to the loan/grant/rebate programs listed below, many states have Small Business Assistance programs that include low-interest financing for pollution-reducing equipment of all types, not just APUs.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (ooida.com, (816) 229-5791) has an APU- and cab heater-financing program for members. Leased operators may find their fleets offer similar incentives, and APU manufacturers such as Cummins and Thermo King, among others, often provide affordable financing programs.


SmartWay Transport Partnership: grants, low-interest loans

This public-private collaboration aimed at increasing transportation efficiency is led by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which disperses federal money to many state-run programs. The partnership’s main site is a good resource for information about grants and low-interest loans.

At the SmartWay Finance Center website (www.SmartWayFinanceCenter.com), you can fill out a single application for loan or lease funding for a SmartWay-certified APU that will go to all participating private lenders and lease companies.

www.epa.gov/smartway, (734) 214-4767


Cascade Sierra Solutions: loans, rebates

Oregon-headquartered Cascade Sierra Solutions began with a focus on providing owner-operators in Washington, Oregon and California (or operating along the I-5 corridor) with information about idle-reduction and other efficiency-boosting technologies. From the CSS website, or working with a representative at one of its four locations at truck stops along I-5, you can apply for a U.S. Small Business Administration loan or obtain information on regional programs.

CSS is launching a 20 percent rebate program for owner-operators nationwide who purchase shorepower-capable APUs under the Shorepower Truckstop Electrification Project. You can become a CSS fleet member for $25 a year. The membership fee “helps pay for our communications network and for our people to keep getting out there and finding these grants,” says CEO Sharon Banks.

www.cascadesierrasolutions.org, (866) 345-3390


Arkansas: low-interest loans

The state Department of Environmental Quality’s Business Assistance Program offers a low-interest loan program to small state-based businesses investing in any pollution-reduction/waste-control program, including idle reduction technology.

Primary contact: Liz Rusk, (501) 682-0709

Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, Business

Assistance Program, www.adeq.state.ar.us/poa/businessasst.htm, (888) 233-0326


California: grants, low-interest loans

California-based owner-operators selecting an APU may qualify for grant assistance through the Carl Moyer Program of financial incentives if they choose one of certain zero-emissions options, such as battery-powered devices. The grants are administered through local air quality districts. California’s small-business loan program may also be a good source of low-interest funding. The California Air Resources Board operates a one-stop hotline for truck-related information at the number below.

California Air Resources Board, www.arb.ca.gov (click “the Truck Stop” on the left), (866) 634-3735


Maine: low-interest loans

The Efficiency Maine program offers low-interest loans for up to $35,000 investment in efficiency-boosting equipment to Maine-based small businesses – the current interest rate is 1 percent. (See also Cascade Sierra Solutions’ “Great SmartWay Rebate Program.”)

Efficiency Maine, www.efficiencymaine.com, click “For Small Business” under “At Work,” (866) 376-2463


Massachusetts: loans

Microfinance institution Accion offers loans to small businesses in Massachusetts (see also New York) for investing in efficiency-boosting equipment like APUs. Interest rates of 8.99 percent are available for loans of up to five years.

Accion USA, www.accionusa.org, click “Small Business Loans & Resources,” (866) 245-0783


Minnesota: low-interest loans

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, through its Small Business APU Loan Program partly funded by the Midwest Clean Diesel initiative of the EPA, offers low-interest loans to state-based owner-operators and small fleets.

Primary contact: Mike Nelson, (800) 985-4247,

michael.nelson@state.mn.us

Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, www.pca.state.mn.us, search “Small Business Assistance,” (800) 657-3864


New York: loans

See Massachusetts. Accion USA also offers its loans to New York small business haulers.


North Carolina: rebates

The Division of Air Quality of the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources was awarded federal funds under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to offer rebates on idle reduction equipment. As of late May, more than $250,000 was still available for rebates of up to $2,500 per APU purchase, with a limit of three per company.

Primary contact: Heather Hildebrandt, heather.hildebrandt@ncdenr.gov, (919) 733-1498

NCDENR, Division of Air Quality, www.ncair.org, click “Motor Vehicles,” then “Idle Reduction,” (919) 733-3340


Oregon: low-interest loans

The Lane Regional Air Protection Agency in Eugene, Ore., received EPA funding and loan money from the Oregon Department of Energy to conduct its Everybody Wins demonstration project to assist a small number of truckers in the I-5 corridor in buying APUs. Phase II of the project planned to outfit 250 trucks operating primarily within Oregon.

LRAPA, www.lrapa.org, click Projects and Programs, then Everybody Wins, (541) 736-1056


Pennsylvania: low-interest loans, grants

The Small Business Pollution Prevention Assistance Account Loan Program, administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, has provided low-interest loans of up to 75 percent of the cost of waste, pollution or energy use reduction projects. Interest rates of 2 percent for up to 10 years apply. The DEP’s Small Business Advantage Grant program also awards up to $7,500 in grants toward funding up to 50 percent of an applicant’s project, including truck APUs. DEP says the program may reopen this year.

Primary contact (Advantage grants): David Barnes, (717) 772-5160, http://www.epadvantagegrant@state.pa.us; (PPAA loans): Gene Delvecchio, gdelvecchi@state.pa.us,

(717) 783-8411; Pennsylvania DEP Office of Energy and Technology Development, www.depweb.state.pa.us, click “Energy,” then “Small Business Ombudsman’s Office,” (717) 783-0909


Tennessee: rebates

Tennessee’s Idle Smart Clean Diesel rebate program covers up to 50 percent of the cost of idle-reduction technologies. It’s available to Tennessee-based fleets and owner-operators, and has been extended through March 30. After that date, the program will continue for owner-operators and very small fleets.

Primary contact: Jimmy Calcagno, (865) 974-7723; Department of Environment and Conservation, www.tn.gov/environment/recovery, click “Diesel Emissions Reduction,” (615) 532-0779


Texas: rebates, grants

The Texas Emissions Reduction Plan, administered by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, offers financial incentives, including rebates and grants, to help businesses buy emissions-reducing equipment. Application deadlines for grants have passed but more may open. The North Central Texas Council of Governments often offers grants for fleet and owner-operator upgrades.

NCTCOG, www.nctcog.org/aqfunding, (817) 640-3300

TERP, www.tceq.state.tx.us, click “Air,” then scroll down to topics under “Pollution Prevention and Reduction,”

(512) 239-1000


Wisconsin: grants

The Department of Commerce administers the Wisconsin Diesel Truck Idling Reduction Grant Program for Wisconsin-based owner-operators. Since 2006 more than 1,100 devices have been installed with grants of up to 50 percent of the cost.

Primary contact: Jean Beckwith, jean.beckwith@wisconsin.gov, (608) 261-2517; Wisconsin DOC, www.commerce.state.wi.us/BD, click Diesel Idling Reduction Grants, (608) 267-9214 n

  • Albert Paul Wimberley Jr.

    Would like to find out more about financial aid, with apu unit for my lease purchase commercial truck? thx

  • http://overdriveonline.com/channel19 Todd Dills

    Albert, depending on what state you’re in, opportunities will vary. A lot of the big federally funded programs that were ongoing when this story appeared have fallen by the wayside with expiration of federal funding. That said, your state (typically via the environmental service department) may still have a program of incentives. Being in touch with them directly is probably your best bet to finding current information. What state are you in?