Electrification towers funded by grants removed from old Derrick’s

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 13, 2012

SALISBURY — The $760,000 truck stop electrification project largely constructed with public funds at the former Derrick’s Travel Plaza has been removed.
The 25 service towers, which allowed 50 truck drivers to pull up and plug in to heat, air conditioning, cable TV, electricity and Internet for a fee, were installed in 2010. They were removed recently when Derrick’s closed.
The Centralina Council of Governments, with several Rowan County commissioners as proponents, secured $500,000 in federal grants to help pay for the project.
Derrick’s was sold last month to Love’s Travel Stops, which plans to raze the truck stop and construct a new one. The site has been cleared except for the building and a chapel.
Love’s did not remove the electrification towers or clear the site, spokeswoman Kyla Turner said.
Turner said the former owner had ended an agreement with the electrification service provider before Love’s bought the property.
Love’s will not reinstall the electrification towers, Turner said. She said she doesn’t know what happened to them.
“That was an agreement made before us and canceled,” she said. “… We are not going to assume any remaining terms on an agreement that was not ours to begin with.”
Sun Capital Partners owned the truck stop at Peeler Road and Interstate 85 when the project was announced in December 2009.
CabAire LLC of Enfield, Conn., built the electrification project, investing $260,000. Federal grants paid the balance.
It was the third project in North Carolina and was considered a model at the time for more to come.
“This is my pet project here, and it’s going to be a winner,” Jim Bianco, president and CEO of CabAire, said in 2009.
Ownership of Derrick’s then changed. VPS Convenience Stores of Wilmington owned the facility when Love’s bought it last month.
CabAire and the Centralina Council of Governments could not be reached for comment.
A spokeswoman for VPS said she is researching the issue.
Long-haul drivers often run their diesel engines all night so they can live and sleep in their cab.
Truck stop electrification encourages drivers to turn off their engines, saving fuel and improving air quality, especially important in Rowan County where ground-level ozone pollution is a problem.
Generally, the systems are not well-used, Turner said.
Love’s has a handful of electrification projects throughout the country.
“They are under-utilized by truck drivers, and they sometimes complain about them,” she said. “They take up a lot of room.”
Love’s is looking at other ways to improve air quality, Turner said.
Read more in Friday’s Post.
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.

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