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PG&E to Buy 50 Bi-Fuel NGVs

February 15, 2013 in CNG, EVs, Fleet Order, NGVs by Rich Piellisch  |  No Comments

Buying More Chevy Volts Too, and Ford C-Max Plug-Ins

Pacific Gas & Electric is close to placing an order for 50 CNG-gasoline pickup trucks with General Motors – management is working now on an optimal work crew placement plan for the bi-fuel pickups. Separately, the San Francisco-based utility is ordering dozens of additional plug-in hybrid electric vehicles from both GM and Ford.

PG&E will learn to live with the fuel tank in the truck bed.

PG&E will learn to live with the CNG fuel tank in the truck bed. (GM photo of a bi-fuel Chevrolet Silverado)

PG&E has something like 900 dedicated-compressed natural gas vehicles in its fleet, but has found that when it comes to work trucks, which are often called upon for emergency jobs, bi-fuel is a necessity.

“We need to be able to go anywhere, at any time,” says transportation services director Dave Meisel. He is determining which of his crews, or perhaps supervisors, can best use the three-quarter ton bi-fuel trucks, which lose about a fourth of their eight-foot truck bed to the CNG fuel cylinders.

Gasoline will be a fallback. “We would use CNG the vast majority of the time,” Meisel told F&F.

Waiting for Via

PG&E transportation director Dave Meisel at the wheel of one of his firm's Via Motors range-extended electruc trucks in San Francisco.

PG&E transportation director Dave Meisel at the wheel of one of his firm’s Via Motors range-extended electric trucks in San Francisco.

Meisel said too Thursday that PG&E is buying 23 new Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, and 25 of the Ford’s new C-Max Energi Plug-In Hybrid vehicles. In the San Francisco Bay Area, he says, with relatively short driving distances, the plug-ins could in some cases represent “a non-fuel situation for us.”

“We have a very clean energy profile,” Meisel says – the California utility burns no coal to produce electricity. “We’re providing clean electricity to power clean vehicles,” he says. “That’s about as good as it gets.”

PG&E current operates approximately 900 dedicated natural gas and a like number of electric drive vehicles, Meisel says, as well as about 1,500 vehicles using biofuels.

The utility is a lead customer for Via Motors, which has developed a line of range-extended electric vehicles, beginning with modified GM pickups. The exact number to be purchased, Meisel says, depends on when the Via trucks become commercially available.

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Source: Fleets & Fuels interview

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