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New Electric Bucket Trucks Offer Cleaner, Quieter Operation

Apr 15, 2015

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The Oak Ridge Electric Department is one of several local power companies partnering with the Tennessee Valley Authority to bring energy efficient, hybrid electric-powered bucket trucks to the Tennessee Valley.

The new trucks are funded in part by a grant from TVA, the Electric Power Research Institute and the U.S. Department of Energy. Oak Ridge received one plug-in hybrid bucket truck in October and is awaiting delivery of a plug-in hybrid pickup truck.

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. Other participating utilities in East Tennessee are Knoxville Utilities Board and Bristol Tennessee Essential Services.

A total of 53 hybrid trucks will be distributed; 27 medium-duty bucket trucks and diggers and 26 light-duty pickups and vans.

“Thanks to this grant, local power companies such as Oak Ridge 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 will be installed in at least two locations in the Oak Ridge area. One will be where the bucket truck is housed. The other location is in the customer parking lot at the City Service Center at 100 Woodbury Lane in Oak Ridge. The public charger will be open and free for use for five years. TVA is providing these charging stations to participating utilities and will provide partial funding for installations.

The trucks not only reduce emissions, but also 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 the region.

Trucks with the plug-in hybrid system can achieve up to 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 Oak Ridge and TVA’s safety initiatives.

“Safety is always a top priority in whatever we do,” said Oak Ridge Electric Director Jack Suggs. “Now the crew member in the bucket truck and the people on the ground can communicate clearly. That gives us an added layer of safety while giving us the opportunity to reduce the amount of vehicle emissions in the area.”

To achieve anticipated net improvements in emissions, Oak Ridge has decommissioned comparable-sized vehicles in its fleet as approved by TVA.

The city of Oak Ridge provides electric, water and waste water services to its 29,500 customers in Anderson and Roane Counties.

The Tennessee Valley Authority is a corporate agency of the United States that provides electricity for business customers and local power distributors serving 9 million people in parts of seven southeastern states. TVA receives no taxpayer funding, deriving virtually all of its revenues from sales of electricity. In addition to operating and investing its revenues in its electric system, TVA provides flood control, navigation and land management for the Tennessee River system and assists local power companies and state and local governments with economic development and job creation.


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