Indiana Ports Test Use of Electric Trucks – Inside INdiana Business
Indiana Ports is undergoing a pilot program to examine the use of heavy electric vehicles at its port of Burns Harbor. At least for the next six months, the authority will make available to its 30 tenants a variety of trucks, terminal tractors and battery-powered forklifts. Stevedores, businesses and trucking companies will be able to use the equipment in actual port trucking operations.
In an interview with Inside INdiana, Ports of Indiana COO Andrea Hermer said she wanted to demonstrate how electric vehicles can be part of a sustainable industrial enterprise.
“The technology is there. We feel this is probably one of the most advanced technologies in this kind of alternative fuels space that we can actually start to implement,” Hermer said. “We may have to start small, but we are prepared and ready to move forward step by step with our tenants.
LISTEN: Hermer further explains how electric vehicle technology is part of a larger plan for Indiana’s ports.
Connecticut-based Current Trucking, an eTrucks rental and service provider, is partnering with the Port Authority to provide the vehicles businesses can test drive in their daily operations.
“We showcase the best available electrification technology for heavy-duty hauling from leading manufacturers in the industry,” said Pip Decker, Current Trucking founder and project team member. “We hope to show operators how adopting e-mobility reduces total operating costs.”
Initially, port customers can sign up to use a terminal tractor, often referred to as a “yard jockey”, to move semi-trailers through a cargo area. But other electrical equipment will be made available to demonstrate their day-to-day efficiency.
“As tenants tell us what equipment they need, we will offer electric versions or models of that equipment. We plan to have more trucks there. We plan to bring in forklifts. If people are interested in cranes, whatever equipment they need, we can bring it,” Hermer said.
Hermer says he is working with Merrillville-based NiSource Inc. (NYSE: NI) to provide industrial-grade power and fast chargers to the port. Depending on the success of the program and the expected adoption of electric vehicle use, the authority will then proceed with the long-term investment in infrastructure to support industrial electric vehicles.
“We plan to make capital investments in this area, and not so much in the equipment area,” Hermer explained. “We don’t plan to own and operate a lot of equipment. But we think we can help provide the solution and the infrastructure. I think it will help entice and entice other people to buy what they are already used to buying, which is gear.
Hermer says the pilot program is just one phase of a larger program.
“Ports are about transportation and logistical connections,” Hermer said. “We look at electricity and other energy sources in the same way – critical connections to port operations and into the future.”
In July 2020, the authority celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Burns Harbor facility. Hermer says as Indiana ports look to the next 50 years, they will have to look at energy consumption in a different way.
“It’s definitely one of those areas where we think that’s going to be a real key to our future success,” Hermer said. “This is part of the operations we will be doing going forward, as it is part of what we believe is necessary and important to continue the success of our ports across the state.”
For now, the pilot program will remain at the Burns Harbor facility. Hermer says he will further explore the possibility of running a similar pilot at the authority’s other ports along the Ohio River in Jeffersonville and Mount Vernon.