Governor Jack Markell announced the opening of Delaware's first electrified parking area for trucks at the Smyrna Rest Area on U.S. Route 13.

The site includes 24 electrified parking spaces, which will eliminate the need for drivers to idle their diesel engines by allowing truckers to attach to external consoles powered by grid-supplied electricity. This will also help truckers avoid fines, as Delaware only allows three minutes of idling time in fair weather conditions.

The parking area will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week using an automated system that allows truckers to use a Smyrna Rest Area credit card to gain access to the service. For $20 they can purchase a reusable window adapter, which includes the credit card with eight hours of usage time. Additional hours can be purchased for $2.50/hour, as compared to about $4 for a gallon of diesel fuel, the amount a truck would typically burn while idling for one hour.

The electrified parking area, a partnership project among the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, the Delaware Department of Transportation and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, was funded by a 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant.

"We can reduce these emissions and save truckers money at the same time," said U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, who helped introduce the new parking area. "The clean diesel program, funded through the Recovery Act, provides critical resources to electrify rest stops and provide a cleaner alternative to idling diesel engines."

It is estimated that if just half of the electrified parking spaces are used for ten hours per day, truckers will save 44,000 gallons of diesel fuel annually and eliminate 500 tons of carbon dioxide emission.

For photos of the new parking area from the Milford Beacon, click here.