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T&D World Magazine

PG&E Participates in Hybrid Truck Pilot Program

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. today announced it is among the first utilities in the nation to test a new diesel-electric utility service truck with the potential to avoid the release of two tons of carbon dioxide per year.

"Hybrid-electric trucks are promising because of their potential to significantly reduce the use of petroleum-based fuel and help keep California's air clean," said Jill Egbert, manager, clean air transportation, PG&E. "We hope our involvement will lead to the accelerated development and mainstream acceptance of hybrids in our industry."

PG&E is one of 14 utilities in the nation participating in the pilot truck program, sponsored by WestStart's Hybrid Truck Users Forum (HTUF), a hybrid commercialization project bringing together truck fleet users, truck makers, technology companies, and the U.S. military, to field-test utility trucks with an integrated hybrid power-train solution.

The hybrid bucket truck, manufactured by International© and Eaton Corporation, is conducting routine and emergency overhead line work in PG&E's San Francisco service area that would normally be done by a standard, less-efficient diesel-powered bucket truck.

Independent test results involving the type of truck being used in the pilot, measured against driving and work cycles typical of the utility industry, showed a decrease in the amount of fuel used of 40-60 percent, as well as emissions-reduction benefits. At $3.00 per gallon for fuel, the potential savings ranges from $4,500 to $5,500 a year per vehicle.

"The early results are very promising," said Bill Van Amburg, senior vice president, WestStart. "While testing these trucks on a larger scale and over a longer period of time in this pilot program is a critical next step, we're confident these vehicles are commercially viable and will deliver real value to customers."

The hybrid trucks will be assessed for one year as part of this comprehensive national program. Fleets will test the fuel economy and emissions-reduction benefits of the trucks in addition to other attributes including:
0. Power generation of up to 25 kW
. Silent, non-polluting work site operation
. Reduced brake wear due to regenerative braking
. Extended maintenance intervals of the engine and systems

To gauge performance of the diesel-electric hybrid trucks participating in the pilot, International will equip each vehicle, along with an additional baseline non-hybrid truck, with its new International Aware™ Vehicle Intelligence system. This telematic system will send continuous information to everyone involved to measure the performance of the hybrid test fleet against a conventional vehicle being used in the same application and location. The data will give PG&E specific information on performance and savings to help to fully understand the impact of hybrid-electric vehicles in the fleet.

During the year-long test, the participating fleets will also work with the supplier team as it finalizes its production design. If the hybrid truck performance meets expectations, initial production could begin in late 2007. At that time, the hybrid vehicle could serve as a replacement for traditional utility trucks, as well as applications such as tree trimming, regional delivery, beverage vehicles and shuttle buses.

For nearly two decades, PG&E has been advocating alternative transportation technologies including electric, fuel cell, and natural gas vehicles. In fact, with more than 1,300 vehicles, PG&E maintains the largest natural gas fleet in the nation and has helped more than three hundred customers adopt alternative transportation methods. Over the last 15 years, PG&E's clean fuel fleet has displaced more than 3.4 million gallons of gasoline and diesel, and helped to avoid 6,000 tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere.

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