Plug-in hybrid utility truck keeps lights on during emergencies


Pacific Gas & Electric plug-in hybrid Class 6 truck

Pacific Gas & Electric plug-in hybrid Class 6 truck

Enlarge Photo

California electric utility Pacific Gas & Electric recently took delivery of a pair of new trucks that it hopes will help solve two problems.

The first is power outages, whether they are caused by weather or necessary planned maintenance work conducted by utilities.

The other is every utility's huge bill for diesel fuel. The large trucks utilities use to restore and conduct maintenance work cover a considerable mileage every year, and with much worse fuel economy than the average car.

DON'T MISS: Electric Ford Transit van conversion shown by Inventev at Detroit Auto Show

The two Class 6 plug-in hybrid trucks recently accepted by PG&E can use their onboard battery packs either to drive on electric power, or export current to keep the lights on in specific customers' homes.

They are capable of 50 miles of all-electric driving, with an exportable power capacity of up to 160 kilowatts, according to a PG&E press release.

The trucks use a Peterbilt chassis, with plug-in hybrid powertrains supplied by Efficient Drivetrains Incorporated.

Pacific Gas & Electric plug-in hybrid Class 6 truck

Pacific Gas & Electric plug-in hybrid Class 6 truck

Enlarge Photo

PG&E and EDI previously collaborated on two different smaller Class 5 plug-in hybrid truck models, in 2014.

The companies claim the new Class 6 trucks can export 25 percent more power than their predecessors, with the same electric range.

The Class 6 trucks are flatbeds, and will be used to haul materials such as transformers to job sites, PG&E said.

ALSO SEE: California utilities submit $1 billion of electric-car projects to regulators

PG&E has nearly 3,500 "alternative-fuel vehicles" in its fleet, about 1,000 of which have hybrid or all-electric powertrains.

Along with San Diego Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison, PG&E is also one of three California utilities planning electric-car projects.

All three proposals take advantage of recent changes to California regulations that allow utilities to build and operate electric-car charging infrastructure.

Pacific Gas & Electric plug-in hybrid Class 6 truck

Pacific Gas & Electric plug-in hybrid Class 6 truck

Enlarge Photo

Seven proposed PG&E initiatives totaling $253 million aim to increase the number of medium- and heavy-duty electrified fleet vehicles, install many more electric-car fast-charging stations, and explore new uses for electrified vehicles.

The charging-infrastructure project calls for the deployment of 7,500 charging stations in PG&E's service area, in northern and central California.

MORE: California's PG&E utility now offers $500 rebate for electric-car use

A further electric-car initiative launched last month in the form of a $500 "Clean Fuel Rebate" for residential customers who charge their cars at home.

This is the result of California's Low Carbon Fuel Standard, which among other provisions, gives credits to utilities whose customers use home electricity to charge electric cars.

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