Putting the e-brakes on refrigeration trucks

Written by: Eugene Rubinchik, Clean Cities Georgia intern


ATLANTA – The race has begun to electrify the United States, and amidst the bustle, something refreshing occurred across three Greater Atlanta food distribution centers.

After receiving a $420,740 grant through the EPA Clean Diesel Funding Assistance Program, Clean Cities Georgia and their grant partners assisted in constructing 102 compatible electrified parking spaces for the dual-fuel Electric Transportation Refrigeration Units (eTRUs).

Located at KeHE Distributors in Douglasville, Gourmet Foods in Decatur and Bonduelle in Jackson, the eTRU units saved 50,049 gallons of diesel fuel by running on electricity while parked at the distribution lot and reduced 510 metric tons of CO2 emissions since its activation in early 2021.

For reference, the average individual’s car emits about 4.5 metric tons of CO2 per year. The amount of CO2 this project displaces is equivalent to removing about 110 cars from the roads for a year. These statistics invoke optimism toward a resilient future, but it is important to understand that resilient systems require attention and diligence to implement.

Site selection was a crucial element in developing these three projects. The three selected distribution centers represented underserved communities that disproportionately faced issues regarding diesel fuel emissions. Community air quality improvement in the Metro Atlanta region was a required consideration for the location of these projects, so the intention was to not only cut down on energy costs for the distribution centers but to improve community air quality through the reduction of diesel particulate matter emitted when the refrigeration units operated exclusively on diesel.

In partnership with Georgia Power and CleanFutures, Inc., Clean Cities Georgia was able to ensure that both energy costs and air quality were improved at the selected distribution centers.

At Gourmet Foods alone, 18,277 gallons of diesel fuel were offset in 2021, and $41,499 was saved during a six-month data period. In total, it is expected that these 102 electrified parking spaces will displace 500,490 gallons of diesel fuel and 5,095 metric tons of C02 in the next 10 years.

The delay due to supply-chain challenges from COVID-19 and longer-than-intended installation times slowed down eTRU usage at the beginning of 2021, but the uptick in usage throughout the rest of the year emphasized the success of this program.

Most encouraging, however, was the improvement of air quality in three communities that faced exposure to harsh particulate matter. This project highlighted both the interest and opportunity for electrifying food distribution processes.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here