McMinnville Electric System is one of several local power companies partnering with Tennessee Valley Authority to bring energy-efficient, hybrid electric-powered bucket trucks and light-duty trucks to its fleet.
MES received one plug-in hybrid bucket truck, one plug-in derrick/digger truck, and two plug-in hybrid pickup trucks. The new trucks are funded in part by a grant from TVA, the Electric Power Research Institute and the U.S. Department of Energy.
Hybrid trucks reduce emissions, as well as improve employee safety and reduce neighborhood noise by allowing the bucket boom to run almost silently on electricity when parked. The project is part of TVA’s pledge to improve air quality.
In all, 17 TVA-served utilities are receiving the plug-in hybrid system, including 12 in Tennessee, two in Mississippi, two in Alabama, and one in Kentucky.
A total of 53 hybrid trucks will be distributed. These are 27 medium-duty bucket trucks and diggers and 26 light-duty pickups and vans.
“Thanks to this grant, local power companies such as MES are able to purchase these advanced technology trucks for about the same cost as a regular bucket truck, yet they are much more environmentally friendly,” said DeJim Lowe, interim director of TVA Technology Innovation. “The hybrid trucks diminish vehicle emissions, use less fuel and reduce operational costs.”
As part of the program, electric charging stations are installed in two locations at MES administrative offices on Morford Street and the operations office on West Main Street. Both these chargers are available to the public. TVA is providing these charging stations to participating utilities and will provide partial funding for installations.
Trucks with the plug-in hybrid system can achieve 50 percent improvement in fuel economy when compared with trucks using traditional diesel- or gasoline-fueled engines. Fuel savings come not only while driving, but also when the truck’s onboard rechargeable electric batteries are used to operate its boom. Since the boom is nearly silent, crews can more easily communicate with each other, supporting both MES and TVA safety initiatives.
“Safety is always a top priority in whatever we do,” said MES general manager and CEO Rodney Boyd. “Now the crew member in the bucket truck and the people on the ground can communicate clearly. That provides an added layer of safety while allowing us the opportunity to reduce the amount of vehicle emissions in the area.”
To achieve anticipated net improvements in emissions, MES has decommissioned comparable-sized vehicles in its fleet as approved by TVA.