Con Edison and its partners Lion Electric and Posi-Plus are developing the country's first all-electric bucket truck capable of performing the full range of work that electric utilities require of such vehicles.
When when Con Edison takes possession early next year, the vehicle will run entirely on electricity as it lifts lineworkers and equipment as high as 60 feet for construction, maintenance and repair work.
"Medium- and heavy-duty trucks are more challenging to electrify than cars, but the purchase of our first all-electric bucket truck shows the market is real today and it will only accelerate from here," Con Edison CEO Tim Cawley said. "While initially small in scope, this represents an important step in Con Edison's journey toward fleet electrification.
"We are all in on electric vehicles, and that means transitioning our own fleet while making it easier for our customers to charge up their own vehicles."
Zero-emission heavy-duty vehicle manufacturer Lion Electric and Posi-Plus, a utility equipment manufacturer, are building the truck to Con Edison's specifications, with a Lion8 all-electric chassis and aerial equipment drive. Delivery of the vehicle in early 2022 will be followed by its use in a pilot program. If this initiative is successful, the bucket truck will be integrated as part of Con Edison's fleet of trucks that maintains the overhead electric system in New York City and Westchester County, N.Y.
The class 8 truck will be capable of putting in a full day's work and traveling an estimated 130 miles on a single charge, the Con Edison notes. When not in service, it will top off its batteries in about eight hours using two Level 2 chargers.
As of last year, every new light-duty vehicle that Con Edison buys is a plug-in hybrid or all-electric. The company is exploring a range of technologies to reduce its fossil fuel use in medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, and it may add more all-electric bucket trucks to its fleet in the future.
The Iconic Utility Truck Reimagined
Bucket trucks are a critical tool for building and maintaining the electric grid, which is set for major investment and expansion as the country shifts toward cleaner sources of energy. Con Edison owns more than 300 such trucks.
While electric vehicles carry higher upfront costs than traditional gas-powered models today, they can already save money on fuel costs, and battery prices are dropping rapidly. Con Edison's all-electric bucket truck will be quieter than models with an internal combustion engine, and the electrified version won't emit any carbon dioxide or other forms of air pollution.
Utility trucks are often required to spend significant amounts of time idling as they prepare for and perform work, making them an attractive target for electrification.
"Con Edison has proven to be a leading innovator among utilities in the United States, and our all-electric Lion8 bucket truck is another example of the paradigm shift that is happening in heavy-duty transportation," said Marc Bedard, CEO and founder of Lion Electric. "Utility trucks are a prime application for electrification that we identified early on, and by eliminating emissions from long idling sessions, utilities have the added benefit of improving the environment and air quality in their own communities while eliminating noise pollution as well."
Con Edison has one of the nation's largest incentive programs to cover costs for bringing electrical service from the grid to electric vehicle chargers, with a goal of 18,500 Level 2 chargers and 450 fast-chargers across its service territory by 2025, the utility adds.
In a first for New York State, electricity recently began flowing from batteries inside electric school buses back onto the grid, as part of a demonstration project focused on vehicle-to-grid technology. The vehicle-to-grid capable e-buses for that project were also supplied by Lion Electric.
In another pilot project, Con Edison and New York City will soon begin installing 120 curbside charging plugs, making it easier for electric vehicle drivers to charge up away from home.
As part of its Clean Energy Commitment, Con Edison is on the path to supplying 100 percent clean electricity by 2040, giving drivers confidence that they will shrink their environmental footprint by choosing an electric vehicle over a gas-powered option.