Second Pennsylvania Senate panel advances electric-powered truck weight rule

October 14, 2020

Keith Goble

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An effort that continues to move through the Pennsylvania Senate 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.

Passed by Congress in 2015, Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act raised the weight limit for natural gas and electric battery-powered tractor-trailers to 82,000 pounds. The rule authorized states to raise the weight limit on interstates within their borders.

Following the feds on electric-powered trucks

The Senate Appropriations Committee voted unanimously to advance an electric-powered truck bill to put into statute the federal rule.

Sponsored by Sen. Wayne Langerholc, R-Richland, the bill would increase the maximum gross vehicle weight for electric battery powered commercial vehicles by 2,000 pounds to 82,000 pounds.

The Senate Transportation Committee previously approved SB845 by unanimous consent.

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

Change described as necessary

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.

Next steps 

The electric-powered trucks bill awaits consideration on the Senate floor. If approved there, SB845 would head to the House before it could move to the governor’s desk. LL

More Land Line coverage of news from Pennsylvania is available.

Keith Goble

Keith Goble has been covering trucking-related laws since 2000. His daily web reports, radio news and “OOIDA’s State Watch” in Land Line Magazine are the industry’s premier sources for information regarding state legislative affairs.