Greening Our Fleet


PG&E continues to actively incorporate more efficient and sustainable transportation technologies into its fleet of more than 11,000 vehicles and ancillary equipment, which includes the largest heavy-duty fleet in California.

For more than two decades, we focused primarily on the use of natural gas as an alternative fuel and, more recently, began exploring the use of bio-diesel. We are currently investing in a range of electric and hybrid vehicles and other high-efficiency technologies to reduce CO2 and NOx emissions, dependency on petroleum-based fuels and operating costs.

Proactively Meeting Federal and State Regulatory Requirements

We remain focused on meeting aggressive federal and state vehicle emission and alternative fuel requirements.

Federal regulations require that 90 percent of all light-duty vehicles purchased for our fleet must be capable of using an alternative fuel—including compressed natural gas or electricity—provided the technology is commercially available. In addition, four state air quality regulations require PG&E to replace different categories of vehicles and equipment within specific timeframes. Among other items, this includes certain portable engines, forklifts, dump trucks and heavy-duty construction equipment such as line trucks, aerial equipment, gas crew trucks and tractors.

We are working to meet these requirements in a way that fosters innovation and new technologies—benefitting both our own fleet as well as the fleets of others in our industry and beyond. Our strategy includes working with vehicle manufacturers to design and test new, emerging types of vehicles and vehicle technologies. It also includes working over the next several years to equip our vehicles with GPS systems to reduce vehicle miles travelled through more efficient dispatching and to deploy lower-emitting vehicles in locations with poor air quality.

Last year, PG&E received approval from the California Air Resources Board for an alternative implementation schedule that will result in emission reductions that are equivalent to existing regulations of diesel particulate matter, NOX and other criteria pollutants. Importantly, the schedule would also result in early reductions of NOX emissions. Through the approved plan, by 2017, all heavy-duty diesel vehicles in PG&E’s fleet would meet or exceed 2010 model year emission standards five years ahead of the previous regulatory requirements. PG&E plans to continue its leadership position in this area and expects to deliver even better results as we continue to advance electric-based transportation technologies.

Finding the Right Solutions for Our Fleet

Among other vehicles, PG&E owns and operates approximately 600 trouble trucks, which are used to inspect, repair and maintain the company’s vast network of transmission and distribution power lines. These trouble trucks are first responders to an emergency and vital to PG&E’s mission of delivering safe and reliable energy to customers.

We estimated that up to 30 percent of the fuel used by these trucks was consumed while idling or using the vehicle’s hydraulic lift to operate the boom at a job site. To address this challenge, PG&E partnered with its bucket truck manufacturers to develop and test a first-of-its-kind plug-in battery-powered system that meets the operational needs of our fleet with a smaller environmental footprint. At the job site, the battery quietly and efficiently powers the truck’s hydraulic lift and heating and cooling equipment—avoiding the need to idle the vehicle.

In addition to reducing fuel consumption, this approach saves money, provides a safer work environment for our crews and customers by reducing noise and prevents air emissions. At the end of 2010, we incorporated the technology into more than 100 trouble trucks, with plans for 140 more in 2011. We also plan to pilot the technology with our larger material handler vehicles in 2011.

We are also supporting opportunities for other utilities, municipalities, cable and telephone company fleets to adopt the technology we helped develop.

Innovative Fleet Vehicles

As part of our commitment to reduce our operational footprint, we continue to incorporate innovative new vehicles into our fleet. Of our more than 8,300 on-road vehicles, roughly 15 percent were powered by compressed natural gas, electricity or other alternative fuels at the end of 2010.

We are introducing a number of innovative vehicles into our fleet:

 All-Electric Bucket Truck

All-Electric Bucket Truck

This vehicle—North America’s first all-electric powered bucket truck—can travel more than 100 miles on a single battery charge. It was developed by PG&E in partnership with Smith Electric Vehicles and Altec Industries. We plan to put four in service in 2011.

Plug-in Hybrid Material Handler

Plug-in Hybrid Material Handler

Using an innovative plug-in hybrid technology, PG&E can operate the aerial lift on this truck without running the engine—providing a quiet, emissions-free job site. PG&E has put ten of these vehicles in use.

All-Electric Service Body Truck

All-Electric Service Body Truck

Used to bring equipment and parts to job sites, this truck is North America’s first all-electric powered medium duty service body truck. It was developed by PG&E with Smith Electric Vehicles and American Truck and Trailer Body Company. We will add two to our fleet in 2011.

All-Electric Flat Bed Truck

All-Electric Flat Bed Truck

This is North America’s first all-electric powered medium duty flat bed truck—used to bring tools, equipment and parts to job sites. It was developed by PG&E with Smith Electric Vehicles and American Truck and Trailer Body Company. Six will be added to our fleet in 2011.

Electric Worksite Idle Management System

Electric Worksite Idle Management System

This advanced technology—developed by PG&E in partnership with Altec Industries—uses a separate battery system to quietly and efficiently power equipment on our bucket trucks while at the job site. It reduces fuel use by up to 30 percent. In 2010, PG&E had more than 100 of these vehicles in service, with plans to add 140 more in 2011.

Extended Range Electric Pickup Truck

Extended Range Electric Pickup Truck

This is the first-ever purpose built extended range electric pickup truck. With one in service already, PG&E is evaluating broader applications for our fleet. The truck was developed by PG&E in partnership with Via Motors Manufacturing and power train engineering company AVL.

Chevrolet Volt

Chevrolet Volt

PG&E took delivery of two Volts in 2010 and expects to have 24 of these state-of-the-art cars in our fleet by the end of 2011. They are designed to run the first 35 miles on a battery and then another 300 miles on a gas-powered electric generator—giving our employees the flexibility they need.

All-Electric Service Truck

All-Electric Service Truck

The E-Star is the first all-electric truck in its weight class. It was developed by the Navistar-Modec Electric Vehicle Alliance with PG&E as the utility launch partner. It is fuel-emissions-free and has a range of up to 100 miles on a battery charge—a perfect fit for travel around our power plants, as well as substation and urban locations like San Francisco.

PG&E is also preparing to sponsor a first-of-its-kind national transportation based “electrification summit” in 2011, which will bring together the major buyers and suppliers of electric-based transportation technologies in an effort to export our learnings and help advance technologies.

Leveraging Training through the PowerPathway™ Program

In preparation for the addition of new hybrid and electric vehicles to PG&E’s fleet, the PowerPathway™ Clean Tech Vehicle Training Network taught our fleet mechanics how to safely repair and maintain the new trucks and cars last year.

PowerPathway logo

Using a “train-the-trainer” approach, PG&E master mechanics trained instructors at several community colleges, who, in turn, trained approximately 225 PG&E fleet mechanics. The partnership with community college instructors will also help take curriculum knowledge back to our communities. Instructors will be using the techniques gained from teaching our fleet mechanics and sharing it with their own students at local community colleges, developing technical skills and creating career paths.

The training for our mechanics focused on servicing new Chevrolet Silverado light-duty trucks and Ford Escape hybrid passenger vehicles prior to taking delivery of the roughly 250 of these vehicles that will be added to our fleet. The three day course covered safety procedures, diagnostics and normal routine maintenance for the new vehicles.

The course was part of the technical training required for our fleet mechanics—designed to ensure our workforce has the necessary skills to safely maintain new equipment and technologies as they become available and to meet regulatory compliance obligations.

Select PG&E mechanics also attended specialized technical training prior to taking delivery of the approximately 50 electric and hybrid passenger vans and heavy-duty trucks manufactured by Altec, Eaton and Peterbilt that will be added to our fleet. In addition, in partnership with American River College, we piloted a 6-week course for military veterans on air brakes to make the connection between mechanical skills learned in military training and applications in the private sector.

Our Fleet’s Fuel Consumption

PG&E consumes petroleum and bio-diesel to power many of the vehicles in our fleet. The following chart shows PG&E’s fuel usage over the past three years.

Transportation Fuel Consumed by Pacific Gas and Electric Company

Supporting Natural Gas Vehicles

PG&E’s fleet includes approximately 1,000 compressed natural gas (CNG) passenger cars, pickups, vans and trucks. We also maintain a network of 34 CNG and one liquefied natural gas (LNG) stations, 24 of which are open to the public. PG&E uses its expertise to help customers take advantage of this relatively low-emitting, domestic alternative fuel in their own fleets.

The combined use of natural gas in PG&E’s vehicle fleet, along with the fleets of customers, avoided the use of more than 17.6 million gallons of petroleum last year, which equals the avoidance of approximately 780 tons of NOX, 60 tons of particulate matter and 58,220 metric tons of CO2 on a “well-to-wheel” basis (see the footnote below for an explanation of this term).

Clean Air Transportation (Customer Fleets)
Clean Air Transportation (PG&E's Fleet)

1 These figures represent a full “well-to-wheel” analysis, which takes into account energy use and emissions at every stage of the process, from the moment the fuel is produced at the well to the moment the wheels are moved. Estimates compare the avoided emissions from PG&E’s CNG vehicles to petroleum usage based on the methodology outlined in Full Fuel Cycle Assessment (CEC-600-2007-003, June 2007), which uses the Argonne National Laboratory’s GREET emission model modified to California inputs.

2 These figures for 2008 and 2009 have been refined to reflect an improved assessment of the displacement of gasoline and diesel by natural gas vehicles in PG&E’s fleet and our customers’ fleets.

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