As part of a national pilot program organized by the Hybrid Truck Users Forum (HTUF), Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) and PECO Energy of Philadelphia will be among the first utilities in the nation to test two new diesel series hybrid bucket trucks. Bucket trucks are also known as “trouble trucks”—utility work trucks with an aerial device. Both companies are units of Exelon, a $14-billion utility with a customer base of some 5 million.
The trucks are manufactured by International Truck and Engine Corporation and Eaton Corporation. ComEd will place its hybrid bucket truck, which it demonstrated today, at its Chicago North Office later this year.
HTUF announced the selection of the two manufacturers after a competitive RFP process in October, 2004. (Earlier post.) HTUF and the hybrid bucket truck program are administered by WestStart.
The hybrid bucket trucks are targeted to improve fuel economy up to 60% compared to diesel-only fueled trucks. The utility will test the truck’s ability to reduce the length of power outages, as the vehicle can supply enough electricity to power several homes while crews investigate an outage.
When field personnel operate a diesel-powered bucket truck, the engine must remain on when employees use the bucket. The new hybrid truck allows the operator to shut off the diesel engine and operate the bucket on an electric motor for up to two hours before the engine has to come back on to briefly charge the battery. As a result, considerably less fuel is burned and noise is reduced. About two-thirds of the fuel savings result from the engine being shut off at the work site.
The initial powertrain couples an International in-line six-cylinder diesel engine with an Eaton hybrid-electric drivetrain, which includes transmission, batteries and electric motor.
Other utilities participating in the project include:
Florida Power and Light (Fleet Project lead)
Pacific Gas and Electric
Southern California Edison
American Electric Power
In a separate deal, Exelon recently purchased 50 Ford Escape Hybrids, which now constitute about 25% of the company’s SUV fleet.
Exelon’s use of hybrids is one of the elements of its recently announced voluntary goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 8% from 2001 levels by the end of 2008.
ComEd also became one of the nation’s largest fleet users of biodiesel (B20) fuel in 2004, with more than 2 million gallons consumed.