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PG&E’s Approach to a Green Fleet

Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) is one of the utility companies participating in the diesel-hybrid pilot described in an earlier post. The utility plans to purchase two of the new hybrid vehicles being built by International and Eaton.

The Business Journal provides more detail on the finances.

WestStart-CalStart’s Hybrid Truck User’s Forum (HTUF)is providing $3.5 million to help finance the initial 20 trucks from International, with the Army’s National Automotive Center (NAC) contributing a further $1 million.

The hybrid utility trucks will cost some 28% more than a standard diesel. PG&E will pay the conventional price of about $175,000 for each truck; HTUF and NAC will cover the difference.

“We expect that difference to come down as the vehicle gets mass produced,” says Efrain Ornelas, PG&E’s senior program manager for research on clean air and transportation. “It will still cost more to purchase but the savings in gas mileage, in maintenance and in versatility will actually wind up saving a company money.”

PG&E plans to switch from diesel hybrids to CNG hybrids within a few years of mass production.

PG&E is already researching the next step in hybrid technology—“plug-ins.” Mr. Ornelas says these vehicles would still be able to run on diesel or natural gas but could travel 40 to 60 miles on electricity alone during weather emergencies or in noise-sensitive areas or times of day. The vehicles could even be used as an electricity source during emergencies, he says.

PG&E currently has 821 CNG vehicles in its 8,500-vehicle fleet, including 29 CNG-powered heavy-duty trucks and 12 medium-duty trucks.

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