Greening Our Fleet


Approximate number of jobs supported with PG&E’s commitment to purchase trucks with a plug-in battery-powered system from an Altec Industries, Inc. facility near Sacramento

From hybrid electric bucket trucks to extended range pickups, PG&E is pioneering new vehicle technologies as part of our commitment to provide safe, reliable and affordable gas and electric service. In fact, we have actively incorporated more efficient and sustainable transportation technologies into our fleet for more than two decades—reducing emissions, operating costs and dependency on petroleum-based fuels.

Meeting Federal and State Requirements

PG&E remains 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 be capable of using an alternative fuel—such as compressed natural gas or electricity—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.

Material Handler

PG&E worked with Allison Transmission Llc and Peterbilt Motors Company on a first-of-its-kind utility material handler. The system, which could result in fuel savings of up to 25 percent, includes a conventional diesel engine with a regenerative braking kinetic energy recovery system and stored energy from batteries.

We are working to meet these requirements 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. We are also equipping selected units with GPS systems to increase the efficiency of our dispatching system.

PG&E also continues to implement a plan, approved in 2009 by ARB, which will 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. PG&E plans to continue its leadership in this area, delivering even better results as we continue to advance electric-based transportation technologies.

About Our Fleet

As part of our commitment to reduce our operational footprint, we continue to incorporate innovative new vehicles into our fleet. Of the nearly 8,200 on-road vehicles we own, nearly 20 percent were powered by compressed natural gas, electricity or other alternative fuels at the end of 2012.

To support the growing electrification of our fleet, PG&E is also installing charging infrastructure at our facilities. In 2012, we expanded our fueling network to include more than 150 charging stations at about 40 locations across our service area. We also maintain a network of more than 30 CNG facilities, 25 of which are open to customers. PG&E uses its expertise to help customers take advantage of this relatively low-emitting, domestic alternative fuel in their own fleets.

Exploring the Promise of Extended-Range Electric Pickups

“Extended range” electric vehicles occupy a middle ground between traditional hybrids and 100 percent electric vehicles. As a result, they offer many of the environmental benefits of an electric vehicle, paired with the flexibility to travel longer distances when necessary.

Extended-range pick-up truck from VIA Motors

The extended-range pick-up truck from VIA Motors runs on electric power for the first 40 miles.

PG&E was the first utility to test an extended range pick-up truck from VIA Motors. The trucks can run on electric power for the first 40 miles and then use a smaller gasoline-operated engine to generate any additional electricity needed to finish a trip, resulting in fuel savings and fewer emissions. The vehicles also offer exportable power, which can be used by PG&E crews to run tools and lights; eventually, the trucks could be used to power an entire neighborhood during an outage. PG&E and VIA are also working on other models, such as vans and SUVs.

Our fleet also includes more than 50 Chevrolet Volts, another extended range vehicle. The Volt travels its first 35 miles in electric mode and then switches to a gas-powered generator when the battery is expended. For short trips, the Volt can operate entirely on electric power, but in emergencies, the car can travel across our service area without the need for recharging.

Fostering Economic Vitality

PG&E owns and operates approximately 600 trouble trucks, which are used to inspect, repair and maintain PG&E’s vast network of electric transmission and distribution power lines. PG&E also owns a fleet of larger material handler trucks used to lift crews and materials at the job site.

Altec opening

PG&E vehicles at Altec Industries Inc.’s green-fleet facility in Dixon.

PG&E and Altec Industries, Inc., our manufacturing partner, developed a first-of-its-kind plug-in battery-powered system, called the Electric Worksite Idle Management System (eWIMS). The battery operates the auxiliary systems of these trucks—lights, hydraulic lifts, heating and air conditioning and tools—while at the job site, avoiding the need to idle the vehicle’s engine. Less idling reduces fuel consumption, saves money, prevents air emissions and provides a safer work environment by reducing noise.

PG&E’s commitment to purchase hundreds of the trucks helped support about 100 new manufacturing jobs at Altec’s facility near Sacramento—promoting sustainability in our operations while keeping the benefits close to home.

In 2012, we increased our fleet of eWIMS-equipped trouble trucks to more than 270, and we extended the technology to more than 40 material handlers. PG&E expects to have 700 of these bucket trucks in its fleet by 2017.

PG&E is also adding new gas crew trucks built by a local company, Tracey-based American Truck & Trailer Body, Company, Inc., which was able to add 20 new jobs as a result of PG&E’s order. Designed with input from hundreds of employees, the trucks feature improvements such as a more advanced braking system, a roll-up compartment door for safer access on busy streets, a loading device for heavy equipment and greater fuel economy. An on-board generator also enables crews to power tools necessary to make gas system repairs.

Flexibility and Mobility During Emergencies

In support of a PG&E-wide focus on safety, PG&E maintains four mobile command vehicles designed to support crews during emergencies. The vehicles are packed with the tools crews need to address emergencies from the field, including a 3,000-watt on-board generator, three workstations, laptops, satellite phones, radios and a controller that allows for other radios (such as police, fire and highway patrol devices) to connect with PG&E radio frequencies. The vehicles serve as an extension of PG&E’s Emergency Operations Centers and incident command facilities.

PG&E has two additional mobile command centers that are capable of supporting major emergencies such as wildfires for extended periods of time. The vehicles are built on a 40-foot bus chassis and can house a dozen people for days or weeks, if needed, to address any emergency needs. Like their smaller counterparts, these units are some of the most technologically advanced vehicles in production.

Fuel Use and Emissions Statistics

PG&E utilizes 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
2010 2011 2012
Petroleum Consumed by PG&E Fleet (gallons) 10,471,788 10,101,009 10,099,540
Bio-Diesel Consumed by PG&E Fleet (gallons) 268,004 221,118 196,164

PG&E’s fleet includes approximately 830 compressed natural gas (CNG) passenger cars, pickups, vans and trucks. The combined use of natural gas in PG&E’s vehicle fleet, along with the fleets of customers, avoided the use of 15.8 million gallons of petroleum last year, which equals the avoidance of approximately 680 tons of NOX, 50 tons of particulate matter and 51,500 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
2010 2011 2012
Compressed Natural Gas Therms Used (x1,000) 22,235 22,761 19,637
Avoided NOX Emissions (tons) 757 769 664
Avoided PM Emissions (tons) 58 59 51
Avoided CO2 Emissions (metric tons) 55,770 57,090 49,254
Equivalent Petroleum Gallons Displaced (x1,000) 16,836 17,339 14,959
Clean Air Transportation (PG&E’s Fleet)1
2010 2011 2012
Compressed Natural Gas Therms Used (x1,000) 925.2 807 847
Avoided NOX Emissions (tons) 21 18 19
Avoided PM Emissions (tons) 2 1 1
Avoided CO2 Emissions (metric tons) 2,450 2,137 2,243
Equivalent Petroleum Gallons Displaced (x1,000) 731 650 683
  • 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.