The largest utility company in Iowa recently acquired its first hybrid service truck and plans to obtain even more by the end of the year.
Des Moines-based MidAmerican Energy received its first battery-operated boom truck last week from Altec, a leading utility equipment manufacturing company in Birmingham, Ala.
“We’re excited,” says Ruth Comer, MidAmerican media relations director. “In addition to operating cleaner and reducing emissions, we’re going to be quieter at work in the neighborhood, so we think that’s something that customers are going to appreciate as well.”
The Altec JEMS AT40g hybrid system that MidAmerican purchased is powered by four Absorbent Glass Mat (AGM) batteries, which provide 48 volts to power a hydraulic 44-foot boom and an exportable 110-volt power feature that comes in handy for charging tools. The batteries will be recharged by the truck’s engine and a 110-volt outlet.
MidAmerican opted for Altec’s automated cab climate control, which will maintain a pre-set temperature in the truck’s interior.
Since the truck’s engine does not have to run to operate the lift bucket, Comer said they expect to save four to eight gallons of fuel per day.
Comer said one of their service technicians was impressed with the new truck.
“He thought it was great. He said it was like driving a Cadillac,” Comer said. “When he operated the boom, he was really pleased with it.”
Technicians are undergoing training on how to operate the hybrid truck. Seven more will be delivered by Altec to MidAmerican by the end of the year.
“They’re getting training in how to use the vehicles, but they’re not a lot different,” Comer said. “There are extra things to remember, but the automation of vehicle takes over and then the operator can actually focus on the job that they’re out there to do, like restoring power or working on lines.”
MidAmerican’s service fleet is comprised of 1,350 vehicles. About 100 of those are bucket trucks.
MidAmerican was the first company in Iowa to acquire one of Altec’s hybrid utility trucks, according to Comer. The acquisition is in keeping with one of MidAmerican’s core principles, environmental respect. The 100-year-old utility plans on buying more green vehicles.
“We’ll evaluate, and we do anticipate adding more in future years, but we don’t have a set number in mind at this point,” Comer said.
On its website Wednesday, Altec was selling a new 2015 JEMS AT40g for $99,000. That model, which was built on a Ford F-550 chassis, weighs in at 18,000 pounds and features a diesel engine.
MidAmerican, a subsidiary of Berkshire-Hathaway Energy, is the largest utility provider in Iowa. It services nearly 1.5 million electric and natural gas customers in Iowa, Illinois, South Dakota and Nebraska.