rennie EPA electric trucks
Gary Rennie of the U.S. EPA.
Photo provided by Ecomaine.

Electric trucks focus of Maine event session

Truck manufacturers and regulators provide updates at SWANA meeting in February.

February 26, 2020

Attendees of the Northern New England Chapter of the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) Technical Session heard updates from several speakers on advancements in electric truck fleet options in the United States.

According to a news release issued by Ecomaine, presenters at the session indicated electric buses and trucks have begun to make significant inroads globally, with more than 12,000 now on the road. However, as few as 113 of those are currently in the United States, according to Gary Lalonde of Canada-based truck maker Lion Electric Co. Added Lalonde, “The future is electric.”

Gary Rennie of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act and available grant funding for public and non-profit organizations can help them move from older diesel engines to vehicles deemed newer, cleaner, and more efficiently powered.

Rennie said the waste management industry is one that is poised for great strides in that area in the near future, saying, “Refuse trucks represent a great opportunity for diesel emission reduction.”

In order to realize more rigorous standards for carbon neutrality by 2045, “The adoption of zero emission technology must begin today,” stated Mark McGrew, who also is with Lion Electric.

“There’s no silver bullet or single solution--it’s a lot of little baby steps,” remarked Rocco DiRico, New York City’s Deputy Commissioner for the Department of Sanitation. “Heavy-duty [truck replacement] is much more difficult than passenger cars,” added DiRico, pointing to infrastructure and building voltage capacity in New York City as one potentially substantial challenge in any such transition.

Ecomaine, with funding from the EPA and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, is preparing to purchase two new, all-electric trucks to haul ash from the organization’s waste-to-energy plant to its nearby landfill. “Ecomaine is in a unique position for these electric trucks,” said Kevin Roche, CEO of Ecomaine.

Roche said Ecomaine is an ideal pioneer “because we are both the user and the supplier of electricity through our waste-to-energy plant, [so] it allows us to pilot this type of vehicle on behalf of all of our 70 member communities at once.”

The six-hour technical session was held in late February at the University of Southern Maine in Portland.