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PG&E Unveils Two New Electric Hybrid Utility Trucks at Capitol Hill Event; Vehicles Can Provide Exportable Power

PG&E unveiled new transportation technology on Capitol Hill today. (Photos by Jason King.)

By Jason King

WASHINGTON — During a Capitol Hill event today (Nov. 20) with U.S. Representatives Jerry McNerney (D-CA 9) and Renee Elmers (R-NC 2), PG&E unveiled two innovative new electric hybrid utility trucks, one of which can provide power to up to 100 homes during outages.

The two vehicles, manufactured in Dixon by Efficient Drivetrains Incorporated (EDI), feature up to 40 miles of emissions-free all-electric driving range. The first is a class 5 utility truck, also features exportable power, which allows the vehicle to be plugged directly in the grid to shorten or eliminate planned and unplanned outages. The second is a class 5 bucket truck, which in addition to an electric hybrid drivetrain, also features battery operation of the bucket and other on-board equipment, eliminating the need to idle the vehicle while at jobsites.

“I am pleased that PG&E has shown a commitment to investing in energy efficient vehicles like their plug-in hybrids,” said McNerney. “These new trucks have operational and cost-saving advantages, while helping to cut emissions. In my role as co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Grid Innovation Caucus, I will continue to encourage PG&E and our other utilities to adopt technologies like these that will help us move toward a 21st century grid.”

The EDI vehicles feature an 80 percent improvement in fuel efficiency when compared to conventional trucks and an 80 percent reduction in carbon emissions when operating in hybrid mode. PG&E estimates that each EDI truck will save the utility over 850 gallons of fuel per year.

U.S. Rep. Jerry McNerney of Stockton takes a ride in the bucket truck of the new electric hybrid truck.

PG&E will begin to roll these vehicles out throughout its service area, including the Bay Area, in 2015.

“These trucks have the potential to revolutionize how we handle and respond to planned and unplanned outages,” said Des Bell, senior vice president for PG&E. “We will be able to utilize the exportable power capacity of these vehicles to provide power to up to 100 homes during outages, which will allow us to shorten or eliminate certain outages. This is a reflection of our commitment to improve reliability for our customers.”

PG&E currently operates 942 Class 5 vehicles, including bucket trucks, flat beds, and other service trucks. If the utility were to replace all of those vehicles with EDI’s plug-in electric hybrid models, the utility would save nearly $3.5 million in fuel costs and reduce GHG emissions by over 9,000 metric tons annually. PG&E operates the greenest utility fleet in the industry, with nearly 3,500 alternative fuel vehicles, including approximately 1,000 electric and electric hybrid units.

PG&E partnered with EDI and Altec Industries, both based in Dixon to develop the vehicles, which were designed, built and tested in the heart of California. PG&E is committed to enhancing economic vitality in its service area, which is why the utility has partnered with these two local companies to develop the most technologically advanced vehicles in the industry.

PG&E Fleet Director Dave Meisel (back to camera) describes the vehicle's technology to Rep. Jerry McNerney as PG&E Senior Vice President Des Bell looks on.

EDI, a California-based clean technology success story, was founded in 2006 and began operation in 2007 with a small government loan from the State of California. Since that time, they’ve grown into a multi-million dollar company, commercializing hybrid and electric drivetrain solutions, continuously variable transmissions, and drivetrain software for automotive manufacturers worldwide.  In addition to their U.S. presence, EDI exports electric vehicles to China, and attracts foreign investment from China to support local jobs. EDI has operations in Dixon and worldwide headquarters in the Silicon Valley.

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"PG&E" refers to Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation.
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