Golden Rules

Max Kvidera | December 01, 2011

TRU rule

The transport refrigerated unit air toxic control measure requires all diesel-powered TRUs and gensets to meet specified emissions standards. Once a TRU passes testing, it’s in compliance on a seven-year schedule. Model year engines 2003 and older have to meet low-emission performance standards and then ultra-low-emission performance standards seven years later. Owners of 2003 and older engines who met the standards early in 2008 will get an extra year to comply with the ultra-low emissions standards. Model year 2004 engines must meet the ultra-low standard by Dec. 31 and 2005 and newer engines must meet the ultra-low standards by seven years after the model year. Fines vary from $300 to $1,000 and more. CARB estimates cost at $87 million to $156 million.

Refrigerated hauler C.R. England, which runs into California every day, feels an unintended impact of the TRU rules, Hall says. Because the company typically turns over its reefers every seven years, it’s been able to avoid dealing with CARB rules for TRUs, he says. An unintended consequence, however, is that the resale value of its used trailers has declined.

The carrier is outfitting its trailers with side skirts to comply with the greenhouse gas requirement. Hall says CARB told him the skirts wouldn’t be a financial burden because the skirts’ reported 6-7 percent lift in fuel efficiency would compensate for the cost over the trailer’s useful life. He says England testing showed otherwise.

“What we found is that the only time the skirt provides 6-7 percent fuel efficiency [increase] is in a heavy cross wind,” he says. “What we found is 3 percent. With a seven-year ownership cycle and 3 percent fuel savings, it’s not a strong positive return on investment — it’s only break-even.”

When the skirts were initially recommended, they were too rigid and not practical for heavy use, Hall says. CARB assumed the industry could live with that, he says. Since then the flexibility has improved enough to withstand direct impact without breaking. “The skirts now provide enough of an aerodynamic benefit that we can avoid having to sit and consider whether we could afford to go into California,” he adds.

Drayage truck rule

A two-phase regulation covering Class 7 and 8 trucks serving California ports, with additional requirements in place for the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles.

Phase 1: After Dec. 31, all 2004 and older engines must be equipped with diesel particulate filters. After Dec. 31, 2012, all 2005-2006 engines must have PM filters.

Phase 2: By Jan. 1, 2014, Class 7 and 8 trucks must have engines that meet or exceed 2007 EPA emissions standards. Older vintage engines may be equipped with DPFs with technology that isn’t yet available, CARB acknowledges. The alternative is to buy a truck with a 2007 or newer engine.

Miguel Silva, manager of Horizon Freight System at the Port of Oakland, says most of the trucking industry in the state was given more time to meet CARB regulations, except for the small segment of drayage operators. He says manufacturing of engine filters to catch both particulate matter and nitrogen oxides stopped when CARB extended the deadlines. The filters haven’t been certified by CARB, a process that can cost manufacturers millions of dollars. “We got hit twice — one we didn’t get a modification of the rule and had to proceed with retrofitting, and two, there is nothing to retrofit into,” he says. “It went from [us] spending $10,000 to $15,000 on a filter to $85,000 for a used truck, overnight.”

As a result, Silva says the winners are larger carriers that can grab more market share and the Teamsters union, which is recruiting owner-operators to become employees of carriers.


Ready When It Rains

When it rains, it pours for California carriers. If they don’t have their hands full with trucking regulations, they also have to pay attention to the weather.

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