Greening Our Fleet

400+ Number of battery-powered bucket trucks in use by PG&E

For more than two decades, PG&E has pioneered more efficient and sustainable transportation technologies as part of our commitment to provide safe, reliable and affordable gas and electric service. Today, we are exploring a range of electric vehicle technologies—from hybrid electric bucket trucks to extended range pickups—that are reducing emissions, sparking innovation and supporting jobs and economic vitality in the communities we serve.

Our Approach

PG&E remains focused on meeting aggressive federal and state vehicle emissions and alternative-fuel requirements. Federal regulations require that 90 percent of all light-duty vehicles purchased for our fleet be capable of using an alternative fuel—such as electricity or compressed natural gas (CNG)—provided the technology is commercially available. In addition, state air quality regulations require us to replace different categories of vehicles and equipment within specific timeframes, including portable engines, forklifts, dump trucks and heavy-duty construction equipment such as line trucks and tractors.

PG&E continues to implement a plan approved in 2009 by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to reduce air emissions five years earlier than required by regulation. By 2017, all heavy-duty diesel vehicles in PG&E’s fleet will meet or exceed 2010 model-year tailpipe emission standards. We are working to make this transition in a way that fosters innovation and economic vitality. This includes partnering with vehicle manufacturers to design and test new types of vehicles and technologies.

2013 Milestones

Fuel savings, lower lifetime maintenance costs and emissions reductions are all part of the equation that is driving us to turn more toward electric transportation technologies. Another key factor is that they provide a better experience for our crews on the road and at the job site.

We incorporated a number of these innovative vehicles into our fleet:

  • (Photo by David Kligman)
    The electric hybrid work truck will accommodate exportable energy.
    Electric hybrid work truck. A first for the utility industry, this truck features an all-electric range of 45 miles and fuel savings of up to 30 percent when operating in hybrid mode. Developed locally by Electric Vehicles International, the trucks will be enhanced to accommodate exportable energy that can be used to power the grid during outages. In 2013, PG&E began testing two of the trucks with plans to replace additional conventional-fuel Class 5 vehicles over time.
  • PG&E battery-powered bucket trucks at Altec Industries Inc.’s green-fleet facility in Dixon.
    Battery-powered bucket trucks. PG&E and Altec Industries Inc. developed a plug-in battery-powered system called JEMS, the first of its kind. The battery operates the auxiliary systems of the trucks—lights, hydraulic lifts, heating, air conditioning and tools—while at the job site, avoiding the need to idle the vehicle’s engine. In 2013, PG&E increased our fleet of JEMS-equipped trouble trucks to more than 400, and we installed the technology in nearly 75 material handler trucks. PG&E expects to have 700 of these bucket trucks in its fleet by 2017.
  • The innovative material handler features an electric bucket and a hybrid drivetrain.
    Electric hybrid material handler. This first-of-its-kind truck pairs a diesel engine with an electric motor and batteries for expected fuel savings of up to 25 percent. Equipped with a 55-foot double bucket, the truck was developed with Allison Transmission LLC and Peterbilt Motors Co. In 2013, PG&E deployed one of the trucks with plans to add more.
  • The extended-range pick-up truck from VIA Motors runs on electric power for the first 40 miles.
    Extended-range electric pickup truck. This truck, developed in partnership with VIA Motors, has a 40-mile electric range and offers 15 kilowatts of exportable power that allows work crews to run power tools and lights from the truck. In 2013, PG&E continued testing the trucks and working with VIA on other models, such as vans and SUVs.

Our fleet, featured in this video, also includes a variety of electric and plug-in hybrid cars from General Motors, Ford and other manufacturers.

Recognition in 2013

  • East Bay Clean Cities Green Champion Award
  • Fleet Owner Magazine’s Vocational Fleet of the Year Award

Measuring Progress

At the end of 2013, the nearly 8,500 on-road vehicles we owned included more than 1,150 electric-based, 730 CNG, and approximately 1,200 biodiesel-fueled vehicles. Our network of charging stations is also growing. Last year we added more installations, bringing our total to more than 275 charge points at about 60 locations across our service area.

We also maintain a network of 32 CNG facilities, 24 of which are open to customers. PG&E uses its expertise to help commercial customers take advantage of this relatively low-emitting, domestic alternative fuel in their own fleets.

Fuel Use and Emissions

PG&E uses petroleum and biodiesel 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
  2011 2012 2013
Petroleum Consumed by PG&E Fleet (gallons) 10,101,009 10,099,540 9,840,447
Biodiesel Consumed by PG&E Fleet (gallons) 221,118 196,164 175,724

The use of natural gas in PG&E’s vehicle fleet, combined with usage in customers’ fleets, saved more than 21 million gallons of petroleum last year, which in turn avoided emissions of approximately 930 tons of NOX, 70 tons of particulate matter and 70,270 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)1
  2011 2012 2013
Compressed Natural Gas Therms Used (x1,000) 22,761 19,637 26,829
Avoided NOX Emissions (tons)2 769 664 907
Avoided PM Emissions (tons)2 59 51 70
Avoided CO2 Emissions (metric tons) 57,090 49,254 67,294
Equivalent Petroleum Gallons Displaced (x1,000) 17,339 14,959 20,438
Clean Air Transportation (PG&E’s Fleet)1
  2011 2012 2013
Compressed Natural Gas Therms Used (x1,000) 807 847 1,124
Avoided NOX Emissions (tons) 18 19 25
Avoided PM Emissions (tons) 1 1 2
Avoided CO2 Emissions (metric tons) 2,137 2,243 2,977
Equivalent Petroleum Gallons Displaced (x1,000) 650 683 906
1 Information is provided for fleets belonging to customers who use PG&E’s CNG facilities. 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.

Looking Ahead

At PG&E, we understand that fulfilling electric transportation’s potential requires a utility industry that’s an active partner in the commitment to vehicle electrification. Moving forward, we will continue to be aggressive in electrifying our own fleet. We will also continue to innovate, invest and work closely with our industry, regulators, automakers and other partners to develop policies and best practices that will enable electric vehicles to flourish.

Our work will include adding new vehicles capable of exporting power and researching how to interconnect them to the grid. We are also expanding vehicle-charging opportunities for employees and working with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to outfit select trucks with data acquisition equipment to verify fuel savings.

Looking to the future, PG&E is pioneering a plug-in hybrid work truck developed in partnership with Efficient Drivetrains, Inc., an electric vehicle manufacturer located in the heart of PG&E’s service area in Dixon. Built upon a Ford F-550 platform, the truck features 30 miles of all-electric range, which reduces emissions, and up to 120kW of exportable power. Leveraging the on-board generator, the vehicle has the potential to supply power to the grid to help shorten or eliminate customer outages.

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