KUB satisfied with hybrid bucket truck

KNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE - With already volatile fuel costs spiking to record heights in the last few days, the Knoxville Utilities Board (KUB) hopes its recent purchase of a more economical, environmentally friendly - and safer - hybrid bucket truck will offer some relief to business costs.

KUB just received its first hybrid bucket truck, which decreases particulate emissions by 96 percent and travels 57 percent farther on a gallon of fuel.

"KUB is working hard to be a good steward of the environment and the purchase of the hybrid bucket truck is one of our many efforts towards environmental stewardship," said Grace Whiteside, KUB business management associate.

Whiteside said the hybrid vehicle gets 7.5 miles per gallon compared to 5.5 miles per gallon for the conventional bucket truck. The hybrid truck also saves money because it doesn't use fuel while idling.

She said the hybrid bucket truck cost $198,000 - or $48,000 more than the conventional truck.

"The cost of the hybrid truck is $48,000 more, but the fuel-cost savings are about $6,000 per year," said Whiteside of the truck that is expected to be in service for 12 years.

Steve Noe, KUB's manager of overhead construction, said the hybrid vehicle has other benefits.

"We are very excited about the new hybrid truck and its performance compared to our existing bucket trucks," said Noe.

"Our line workers are very pleased with the truck and the lack of noise while on the job site. The improved ability to communicate from the bucket to the ground offers the entire crew a much safer working environment."

Whiteside said KUB has 56 bucket trucks in its fleet and the recent hybrid vehicle purchase is being used as a test model.

"This is an experiment," Whiteside said. "We're just trying to see if it saves money. We hope to add more in the future, but there's a long lead time of around two years to purchase hybrid bucket trucks."

Whiteside said KUB has three conventional bucket trucks on order because of the backlog to order the hybrid vehicles.

According to Whiteside, all of KUB's fleet of almost 550 vehicles are powered by biodiesel, hybrid electric, compressed natural gas, E-10 ethanol or E-85 ethanol.


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