Pennsylvania Senate panel advances bill to increase electric-powered truck weight

September 10, 2020

Keith Goble


A Pennsylvania bill is on the move that would add the Keystone State to the list of states to adopt a federal weight exemption for electric battery-powered large vehicles.

The state of Pennsylvania now authorizes affected vehicles to weigh up to 80,000 pounds.

The FAST Act passed by Congress in 2015 raised the weight limit for natural gas and electric battery-powered tractor-trailers to 82,000 pounds. The rule authorizes states to act to raise the weight on interstates within their borders.

Second time a charm?

This is the second attempt in as many sessions from Sen. Wayne Langerholc, R-Richland, to get an electric-powered truck rule added to the state’s statute. The previous effort passed the Senate but did not come up for a vote in the House before the session ended.

The Senate Transportation Committee voted unanimously on Wednesday, Sept. 9, to advance an electric-powered truck bill to put into statute the federal rule. Specifically, SB845 would increase the maximum gross vehicle weight for commercial vehicles powered by electric battery power by 2,000 pounds to 82,000 pounds.

Langerholc sponsored a 2017 bill signed into law that authorizes the same weight allowance for trucks powered by natural gas.

Time for change

Advocates say the weight allowance is necessary because heavier equipment is required to power trucks operating on electric battery power and natural gas.

“Heavy duty electric tractor-trailers that run at full weight capacity weigh closer to 82,000 pounds simply due to the weight of the necessary equipment needed to make the engine and system work,” Langerholc previously wrote in a memo to state senators about the bill.

Natural Gas Vehicles for America has reported that more than half of all states have adopted the gross vehicle weight rating provision.

The bill awaits further consideration in the Senate. If approved there, it would head to the House.

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