Electric cooperatives interested in promoting electric vehicle use can help their commercial consumer-members participate in a demonstration of the latest technology for electric freight trucks.

NRECA is co-sponsoring the three-week road show, which will take place in September in the U.S. and Canada and feature up to 10 EVs, including delivery vans, medium-duty box trucks and heavy-duty tractor-trailers.

Truck drivers will move freight throughout North America, across a variety of climates and geographies. The Run on Less-Electric (RoL-E) demonstration is being conducted by the North American Council for Freight Efficiency and the Rocky Mountain Institute.

NRECA is the only utility-based organization that is currently sponsoring the demonstration, which is also being supported by truck manufacturers and truck owner-operators. Co-ops can help commercial members with access to battery electric trucks apply to participate. Teams will be made up of fleet operators and truck manufacturers that have created electric truck test models.

NACFE and RMI also will offer a series of virtual education events to bring together fleet operators, utilities and other industry stakeholders to learn more about electric trucks and how to work together to overcome challenges to their deployment. The E-series schedule will be announced in April, when registration will open. Co-ops and their members can join in the educational events without participating directly in the demonstration.

“We’re sponsoring this to send a message to policy folks at the local, state and federal levels and to commercial customers that co-ops are really interested in this technology and that we see its potential,” said Brian Sloboda, NRECA’s director of consumer solutions.

He said NACFE is going to gather crucial data from the demonstration and will share “the good, the bad and the ugly.”

“Their goal is to increase efficiency and reduce costs while improving the environment,” Sloboda said. “Right now, it looks like electricity is the best path.”

There were a little more than 2,000 electric trucks on U.S. roads at the end of 2019, but that number is expected to swell to more than 54,000 by 2025, according to an August 2020 analysis by Wood Mackenzie, a global energy research firm based in Scotland.

Mike Roeth, NACFE’s executive director, said the electric truck demonstration will help participants learn more about needed infrastructure, training and the total cost of ownership.

“It’s time for all of us to more fully understand the benefits and challenges of hauling real freight with electric trucks,” Roeth said in a statement. “RoL-E will allow us to do just that. We expect the event will help create business and customer demand for more sustainable goods movement.”

Truck fleet operators are not accustomed to dealing with utility companies—and that will need to change to ensure that they save energy costs if they adopt electric trucks, Sloboda said.

Working with co-ops, fleet operators can benefit from reduced rates by charging their vehicles during off-peak hours, he said.

“Right now is a time for educating the fleet customers,” Sloboda said. “We can teach them what they can expect today and in the future and how to work with their electric utility. They can teach the utility the ins and outs of their business. The partnership between the co-op and the fleet operator will benefit everyone.”

Co-ops can encourage members with truck fleets to apply to participate in the demonstration by directing them to fill out the necessary form at runonless.com/apply. Questions can be sent to Dave Schaller at david.schaller@nacfe.org or Mike Roeth at mike.roeth@nacfe.org. At NRECA, Sloboda can be reached at brian.sloboda@nreca.coop.