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IdleAire shuts down at truck stops

A pioneering supplier of “shore power” to trucks at truckstops, IdleAire Acquisition Co., LLC (formerly IdleAireTechnologies Corp.) closed its doors last week after a long period of financial adversity. According to sources inside and outside the company, the shutdown resulted in some 315 layoffs.

The Knoxville-based business, which is currently owned by six investment management companies, said it decided to cease operations when it couldn't find a buyer for its assets.

At the end, IdleAire had 131 locations in 34 states. It provided filtered heating and a/c, electrical outlets and a range of communications and entertainment options that enabled long-haul truck drivers to shut down their engines instead of idling them to power cab-comfort features during daily rest periods. Over 150,000 professional drivers and more than 1,000 fleets were actively using IdleAire services, according to the company.

"The company had made great strides toward profitability in the midst of a very challenging operating environment," the current IdleAire owners said in a statement published in the Knoxville Sentinel. "We believe IdleAire had strong growth potential and was well positioned to capitalize on the recovering economy. We are very disappointed that the company is forced to cease operations at this juncture."

Not so long ago, the company had the plans and the funding to accelerate wide-scale deployment of their facilities. In 2006, they announced the sale of $320 million of discount notes and warrants to fund the construction of approximately 13,200 more IdleAire parking sites in about 210 locations over 35 states. Now the question of what to do with the installations that were completed is just another challenge for the truckstop owners who installed them.

Still, the demise of one of the first “green” suppliers to trucking is not a death knell for the entire shore-power concept-- at least not until battery technology advances to the point where it supersedes diesel entirely as the power option of choice for onboard auxiliary systems.

In the meantime, other, simpler shore power solutions are currently being installed that many believe will make valuable contributions to conserving fuel, reducing emissions and restoring nighttime quiet to truckstops and the neighborhoods around them.

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