Elm City's Food Truck Paradise #BeatAirPollution

Photo Courtesy of AVANGRID

Photo Courtesy of AVANGRID

For years, dozens of food trucks lined Long Wharf Drive in New Haven, Conn., serving more than tasty tacos and hot dogs. The food trucks, while catering to hungry patrons, were pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere all day and well into the night. Each truck used a gasoline-powered generator to power the grills and fryers. The generators were noisy, smelly and spewed pollutants – not the kind of thing the City of New Haven wanted for a waterfront street it dubbed “Food Truck Paradise.”

As more people flocked to Long Wharf and more trucks arrived to serve them, the city decided something had to be done. City Engineer, Giovanni Zinn picked up the phone and called United Illuminating (UI) Senior Account Manager, Ted Novicki.

“They were getting complaints about the noise and pollution,” Novicki said.

That call set in motion a series of events that resulted in a cleaner, greener and quieter Long Wharf Drive. Happy truck owners and customers were too busy noshing taquitos and tapas to notice three-foot high electric kiosks that now lined the sidewalk.

Contractors were hired to do the construction work needed for the kiosks, including digging trenches and underground infrastructure. Hackley said UI had existing transformers nearby that would handle the additional load.

“We were happy to see them utilized more fully,” he said.

UI then connected its electric infrastructure to the city’s lines and a green solution was found. The food truck owners are happy because the city pays the electric bill.

Those 15 double-sided kiosks, which supply 120- and 240-volt power to the trucks, were installed about one year ago. Today, we’re happy to report, no gasoline-powered generators are being used – which pumped 20 pounds of carbon dioxide into the air for every gallon of gas that was used.

“They’ve worked as designed from day one,” said Rich Hackley, the United Illuminating Lead Engineer who designed UI’s portion of the project.

On a recent afternoon, Damian Morales was serving a steady stream of customers at his truck, Taco Santa Ines. A heavy-duty cable connected the truck to the kiosk.

“It’s wonderful. It’s safer, too. We used to have to bring gasoline and pour it into the generator. Now it’s just plug in,” he said.


Now, the idea hatched by this collaboration between New Haven city officials and UI is being considered for a similar use. The popular College Street Music Hall in downtown New Haven features major concerts almost weekly. The tour buses often park out front, idle for hours. UI and the city of New Haven are working to install a similar electric plug-in kiosk where the tour buses park.

AVANGRID is dedicated to support of related U.N. Sustainable Development Goals including: