|International-Eaton Hybrid Utility truck|
PECO, the Philadelphia electric and gas utility, has been awarded a federal Clean Cities grant for more than $83,000 to support the production and testing of a prototype hybrid bucket truck in the Philadelphia region. PECO is one of six recipients in the mid-Atlantic region.
The grant will be used to offset the cost of a heavy duty, hybrid utility truck, manufactured by International Truck and Engine Corporation and Eaton Corporation, which PECO expects to receive in the spring of 2006.
The funding will cover both the body of the vehicle as well as costs associated with the conversion of the engine and chassis to operate on electricity and gasoline. Following production, PECO will utilize the vehicle and provide feedback on its capabilities to the U.S. Department of Energy.
Initial independent test results of the prototype hybrid utility trucks being used in this program—WestStart’s Hybrid Truck Users Forum (HTUF) pilot—have shown a decrease in fuel consumption of 40%–60% measured against driving and work cycles typical of the utility industry. The target requirement for the hybrids was a 50% reduction in fuel consumption. (Earlier post.)
As part of a nationwide pilot program, PECO and sister utility ComEd in Chicago will be among the first utilities in the nation to test hybrid bucket trucks currently being manufactured in Illinois and Ohio.
Unlike diesel-powered trucks, the electric and gas 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 needs to be restarted to briefly recharge the battery. As a result, considerable less fuel is burned and noise reduction is dramatically reduced.
In addition to reduced fuel costs, hybrid vehicles provide other benefits including helping to reduce the length of outages. The truck is capable of generating about 25 kilowatts of electricity, providing enough energy to power three to five average-sized homes while crews make repairs and restore service.
The truck will join PECO’s fleet of more than 1,300 heavy and light duty trucks and SUVs, including 26 Ford Escape hybrids recently added to PECO's fleet. Locally PECO also utilizes light duty vehicles capable of operating on compressed natural gas.
Based in Philadelphia, PECO is an electric and natural gas utility subsidiary of Exelon Corporation, and serves 1.6 million electric and 460,000 natural gas customers in southeastern Pennsylvania. Exelon also owns ComEd (Commonwealth Edison, the Chicago utility), which is one of the largest fleet users of biodiesel in the country.
ComEd consumed 6% of the nation’s entire sales of biodiesel in 2004, owns more than 2,100 vehicles and equipment that run on B20.