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04/22/2021

TravelCenters of America Establishes New Business Unit to Advance Sustainable Energy

With the launch of eTA, the retailer aims to be at the forefront of important trends such as electrification and decarbonization.

WESTLAKE, Ohio — TravelCenters of America Inc. (TA) is launching eTA, a new unit dedicated to partnering with the public sector, private companies and customers to deliver sustainable and alternative energy.

"As everyday travelers embrace the benefits of energy alternatives and the trucking industry continues its transition toward cleaner and more efficient fuels, TA is uniquely positioned to capitalize on this shift and the significant opportunities it creates," said Jon Pertchik, CEO of TA. "Now is the optimal time to sharpen our focus on sustainability, particularly in light of the Biden Administration’s infrastructure plan.

"TA's nationwide footprint, range of truck service options, and breadth of driver amenities are perfectly situated to minimize consumers' 'range anxiety' concerns and make drivers across the nation more comfortable purchasing vehicles powered by electricity and other alternative fuels," he added. "This is a pivotal moment in our company's 50-year history, and we believe that the actions we are taking today will support the next 50 years of profitable growth at TA."

ETA builds on TA's previously announced plans to monetize a broad range of potential offerings in alternative energy, extending its commitment to providing the widest range of nonfuel offerings across its convenience store, restaurant and truck service businesses.

With the launch of eTA, TA will be well-positioned to be in the forefront of important trends, including electrification and decarbonization, and take a leading role in the proliferation of alternative energy to drive profitable long-term growth, according to the operator.

TA has already established important partnerships and launched significant projects in the alternative energy space, providing a strong foundation for the success of eTA. Recent accomplishments include:

  • Securing a $4 million grant with the California Energy Commission to participate in an innovative industry test project for medium- and heavy-duty vehicle electrification. TA and its key partners will design, develop and deploy an integrated distributed energy resource to power energy storage and electric vehicle (EV) charging solutions.
  • Offering hydrogen fueling in California in collaboration with Nikola Corp. for heavy duty trucks at two existing sites, with consideration to possibly develop a nationwide network of hydrogen fueling stations.
  • Significantly expanding diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) availability. TA has made a substantial capital investment into DEF availability and plans to add DEF to fueling lanes at an additional 40 sites (173 fueling lanes). The investment is expected to enable TA to make DEF available at every diesel fueling lane across its entire network by early 2022.
  • Expanding the company’s investment in biodiesel blending, with plans to install additional biodiesel blending infrastructure across the network and expand renewable diesel offerings in California and Oregon.
  • Rolling out plans to install FreeWire EV charging stations for motorists in California in Q2 2021.

The eTA logo — which reflects the company’s commitment to sustainability and underscores that it has arrived in the alternative energy space — will represent sustainability initiatives and will appear on appropriate assets, including EV charging stations.

In addition, TA appointed alternative energy expert John D. Thomas as senior vice president, sustainability & alternative energy. In this newly created position, Thomas will lead the transformative efforts of eTA, leveraging his expertise and industry knowledge to advance the company’s strategy relating to alternative fuel opportunities, and ensure TA's business is at the forefront of the transition to carbon fuel alternatives.

"I am excited to join TA at this critical inflection point for the industry. TA's sites are strategically located where highway travelers are most likely to rest and refuel, and TA has the scale and infrastructure proximity to incorporate lower carbon fuel and alternative energy resources into its broad range of fuel offerings," said Thomas. "These assets, combined with the company’s cutting-edge operating platform and digital systems, ideally position TA to capitalize on policy and market trends to offer low-priced, clean transportation energy and serve as the partner of choice for tomorrow’s traveler.

"We are encouraged by the Biden Administration's demonstrated commitment to investing in infrastructure to create a more sustainable world and support public policy that advances the deployment of sustainable sources of energy," he continued. "We look forward to evaluating the business case for investing in cleaner transportation fuels and to working with policymakers to ensure well-intentioned ideas are implemented in a manner that can generate the desired results for all stakeholders. TA is embracing changes that will redefine America’s transportation infrastructure."

Westlake-based TA is the nation's largest publicly traded full-service travel center network. It operates more than 270 locations in 44 states and Canada, principally under the TA, Petro Stopping Centers and TA Express brands, in addition to nearly 650 full-service and quick-service restaurants and nine proprietary brands, including Iron Skillet and Country Pride.