October 22, 2009
For Immediate Release
David Lewis
Hybrid Bucket Trucks Save Energy, Lower Emissions and Noise

Little Rock, Ark. -- It looks much like any other Entergy Arkansas, Inc. line truck – large, painted white with an Entergy logo and a bucket stretched across the back.

But, on closer examination, this one has something the others don’t: an electric motor. A long green stripe stretched across the sides clearly labels the truck as a hybrid – a vehicle that has a diesel engine and a battery-powered electric motor. Today three of the trucks, which Entergy Arkansas leases, went into service in the Little Rock area.

The hybrid trucks offer several distinct advantages over standard vehicles.

  • Fuel savings: Depending how they are used, the hybrid trucks consume 20-30 percent less fuel.

  • Environmental benefit: Hybrids emit less CO2, the most common greenhouse gas.

  • Safety advantage: At the work site, the hybrids’ hydraulics are powered by batteries, rather than the truck’s diesel engine. So they are much quieter, allowing for easier communications between linemen on the ground and linemen working from the bucket on dangerous energized power lines.

  • Entergy transportation planners believe electric vehicles, in one form or another, are the way of the future. Adding these hybrids to the fleet will give Entergy workers more opportunities to learn how to maintain them.

In 2008 Entergy vehicles in Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas used 5,868,900 gallons of both gasoline and diesel fuel at a total cost of $21,157,000. Of those, 1,200 were “medium-duty” trucks (bucket trucks), and 3,000 were light-duty cars and pickups. The Entergy Arkansas fleet has 312 medium-duty trucks, including the three new hybrids.

The three hybrid trucks added to the fleet today average 6.09 miles per gallon. The standard version of the same vehicle averages 4.96 miles per gallon. Assuming 20,000 miles a year, this will save about 748 gallons per year per truck.

The company has leased ten new hybrids, three of which will be used in the Little Rock area. The lease is higher for a hybrid truck, but fuel costs will be lower. The amount of net savings will depend on the price of diesel fuel in the future.

Three years ago Entergy Arkansas was one of 14 utility companies to participate in a nationwide pilot of hybrid service trucks. The results of that pilot validated the decision to invest in more hybrids. The one truck used in the pilot in Arkansas is still in service today. It has been as reliable as the conventional trucks.

While operating the vehicle is similar to driving a standard-issue diesel bucket truck, a noticeable difference comes after stopping at a job site. Normally, the noisy diesel engine powers the boom that lifts the lineman to work on aerial power lines. In the hybrid, the power comes from the quiet electric motor. It is during these idling times that the hybrid vehicle is expected to cut down most on fuel consumption. Standard diesel trucks burn one gallon of diesel fuel per hour when idling. The company expects to save $2-3 per hour per hybrid truck by using electric motors for boom operation.

It is not necessary to plug in the hybrid to charge its batteries. They are charged by the diesel engine, as in a normal vehicle, and they recapture kinetic energy when brakes are applied.

The battery system not only powers the hydraulic unit during boom operations, it provides drive assistance until the vehicle reaches about 20 m.p.h.

Entergy Arkansas, Inc. provides electricity to 680,000 customers in 63 counties. Entergy Corporation is an integrated energy company engaged primarily in electric power production and retail distribution operations. Entergy owns and operates power plants with approximately 30,000 megawatts of electric generating capacity, and it is the second-largest nuclear generator in the United States. Entergy delivers electricity to 2.7 million utility customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Entergy has annual revenues of more than $13 billion and approximately 14,700 employees.