MidAmerican Energy adds 'green' trucks

Large battery pack replaces idling engine

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MidAmerican Energy, which has installed hundreds of megawatts of wind energy in the past few years, is taking another step to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Des Moines-based utility’s new Green Fleet service trucks are equipped with a conventional engine and a large battery pack that operates the boom and other vehicle features. The dual system eliminates the need to have the engine idling at the job site, thereby saving fuel, reducing engine emissions and the need for engine maintenance, and minimizing job site noise.

The combination creates a service vehicle that is cleaner, quieter and less costly to operate, said Brian Knights, fleet program manager for MidAmerican Energy.

“Every hour a truck idles, it uses one to two gallons of fuel,” Knights said in a news release. “According to industry figures, on average service trucks idle about four hours per day on the job site.

“By eliminating those four hours of idling every day, we will save four to eight gallons of gas per vehicle per day, which will add up to a significant reduction in emissions and significant fuel cost savings over the course of the year.”

Knights added that, “The electric motor that raises and lowers the boom is very quiet. This is a real benefit for customers, especially when we’re working in their neighborhoods at night on streetlight repairs or storm restoration.”

The new green trucks, manufactured by Altec Inc. of Birmingham, Ala., use an electrified power takeoff to operate the boom, according to Mark Baer, Altec Green Fleet sales manager.

In conventional service trucks, the boom that raises and lowers the bucket is powered by the vehicle’s engine. Baer said that requires the vehicle to idle the entire time the bucket at the end of the boom is used at the job site.

MidAmerican has eight Green Fleet service vehicles — five are deployed in the Des Moines area and three are based in the Quad Cities. Baer said the trucks usually are plugged in each night to give the battery pack a full eight-hour charge.

MidAmerican plans to add to its Green Fleet over the next few years as its traditional blue-and-white service vehicles are replaced.

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