Utilities embracing diesel-electric trucks

Utilities embracing diesel-electric trucks

Commonwealth Edison Co. (ComEd), a unit of Chicago-based electric utility provider Exelon Corp., is adding a “bucket truck” and new hybrid SUVs to its fleet. ComEd demonstrated the new International Truck & Engine Corp. diesel-electric hybrid truck and displayed new Ford Escape Hybrids.

International said that the hybrid trucks are expected to improve fuel economy by up to 60% compared to existing diesel-only trucks. The utility companies will also test the vehicle’s ability to supply 25 kW’s of electricity to provide power for homes while crews investigate outages. The truck should be able to power over a dozen homes, International and Exelon said in a joint news release.

The new hybrid truck allows the operator power the bucket solely via an electric motor for up to two hours before the diesel engine has to charge the battery pack, which results in less noise and two-thirds in fuel savings, the news release said.

ComEd and Peco Energy of Philadelphia, another Exelon company, will be among the first utilities to test the International-built hybrid bucket trucks.

Separately, Exelon recently purchased 50 Ford Escape Hybrids, which now make up about 25% of the company’s overall SUV fleet. The gas-electric hybrid Ford Escapes provide an estimated 50% improvement in city/highway fuel economy when compared to the conventional Escape, the news release said.

“We believe that diesel-electric hybrid technology can be made commercially viable, and appreciate the shared vision of utilities like ComEd to prove out this technology on a broader scale,” said Tom Cellitti, vp & gm of International’s Medium Vehicle Center.

“We are taking a leadership role in the commercialization of hybrid heavy-duty trucks because of the potential benefits to the environment and our customers,” said John L. (Jack) Skolds, president of Exelon Energy Delivery.

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