‘Several Things to Overcome’ with Advanced Clean Fleets Regulation

Brian GermanAgri-Business, Regulation

The Advanced Clean Fleets regulation has been approved by the California Air Resources Board. Between 2024 and 2042, commercial trucking fleets of 50 or more vehicles or companies with at least $50 million in annual revenue will be required to use zero-emission vehicles. President and CEO of the Western Agricultural Processors Association, Roger Isom explained that the rule will significantly impact the transportation of ag goods. Drayage trucks will be the first area of implementation, with new trucks entering port service having to be zero-emission vehicles beginning next year.

Clean Fleets

Isom said there are “several things to overcome” as it pertains to the regulation. One of the first constraints to the parameters of the rule is the battery technology is not where it will need to be. “What’s happening is you’re having to use such a large battery you’re losing weight that would normally be for your load. So, we’re going to have to increase the number of trips to get the same amount of load from point A to point B,” Isom explained.

Another issue with the clean fleets regulation is the lack of the infrastructure required to support such a sweeping change. Isom used the early adoption of electronic cars as an example of more vehicles on the road than there were charging stations. Additionally, the amount of time spent charging commercial trucks will be a serious consideration. “If you’re a long-haul trucker or even have to go a pretty good distance, there’s going to have to be fast charging stations put in and they just don’t exist today,” said Isom.

A lack of adequate charging methods for zero-emission trucks is compounded by a lack of infrastructure to support the electricity needs. Isom said the trucks impacted by the clean fleets rule have over a megawatt of demand. California’s energy grid is routinely pushed to its limits in the summer. Adding more burden on the system will require extensive investment and upgrades to the current energy infrastructure.  

“If I’ve got a fleet of 50 trucks and I need them all on fast chargers, that’s 50 megawatts and above. That’s a game-changer. Many of the substations around the state are already maxed out or near capacity,” Isom explained. “Utilities simply can’t meet the demand that that kind of load is going to put on the system. They’ve just said ‘We can’t expand. We’ve got several substations tapped out.’ So, I think we’re headed for a trainwreck to be honest with you.”

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Brian German

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Ag News Director, AgNet West