IE 11 Not Supported

For optimal browsing, we recommend Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers.

Santa Cruz, Calif., Gets First Electric Garbage Truck

The new garbage collector, which costs around $600,000, has a 290 kWh total battery capacity that allows it to hold a charge for about eight hours. The new collector is expected to save around $20,000 in annual fuel costs.

(TNS) — The city of Santa Cruz has added a virtually silent, emission-free garbage truck to its 27-truck fleet with the use of grant funding from the Monterey Bay Air Resources District and the Volkswagen Mitigation Trust.

At the ribbon cutting ceremony held at the Santa Cruz City Hall courtyard Thursday for the futuristic garbage collector, which cost approximately $600,000, local leaders such as Santa Cruz Mayor Fred Keeley spoke to the long-term cost savings that comes with the use of the electric vehicle and its significance for the city moving forward.

"The city of Santa Cruz is honored to be the first jurisdiction in the county to roll out, literally, a complete electric, trash pick-up and sorting truck," said Keeley. "This is going to save us over 3,000 gallons of diesel fuel and $20,000 a year in fuel costs for our city, and maybe if you're the city of L.A. that gets lost in the shuffle, but that doesn't get lost in Santa Cruz. Those are big numbers."

The zero emissions garbage truck has a 290 kWh total battery capacity, which allows the vehicle to hold a charge for about eight hours, according to Janice Bisgaard, community relations specialist with the city. The truck, which takes a little more than an hour to recharge, uses a FreeWire Boost 200 EV Charger that is hooked up to the city corporation yard's solar electric system, already in place.

"For a city like Santa Cruz this is perfect," said Ethan Sprague of FreeWire Technologies. "Electrifying the city vehicles lowers costs and uses power from the sun. Now it's a coordination effort to get more of the infrastructure in place. Our charger is one piece of a bigger puzzle."

The truck's charging station cost about $190,000 and was co-funded by the California Energy Commission through a $100,000 rebate from the Fast Track Rebate program. The city will foot the bill of about $40,000 for the remaining cost of the charging station.

The purchase of the truck in December 2022 helps Santa Cruz meet its climate action targets, which includes decarbonizing, or electrifying, the city's entire fleet of vehicles by 2035, according to Sustainability and Climate Action Manager Tiffany Wise-West, who spoke at the ceremony.

"We are bringing on board more and more electrified medium and heavy duty fleet vehicles," said Wise-West. "In addition to electric passenger vehicles, we have a flat bed truck, a dump truck and street sweeper on order right now, and the fire department is interested in their first electric fire truck as well."

Former Santa Cruz City Councilmember and recently elected 3rd District Supervisor Justin Cummings spoke to the high priority that he and other councilmembers made to reducing carbon emissions during his tenure on the governing body, which began in 2019.

"The City Council at that time pushed really hard at making sure the staff understood that getting our fleet to be 100% electric was one of our top priorities," said Cummings. "I want to thank the city staff for all of their work getting us here today, the city councils past and present for supporting these efforts but most importantly, I want to thank the community members who have pushed our community and local government to make sure we're doing our part."

Richard Stedman of the Monterey Bay Air Resources District, which provided a $400,000 grant for the all electric garbage truck, spoke to the funding mechanisms for electric vehicles, electric vehicle infrastructure expansion in the region and the air pollution that comes with the conventional diesel garbage truck.

"I just want to emphasize that taking the emissions off the road for this vehicle actually directly improves public health and the environment," said Stedman. "Diesel exhaust is one of the most toxic substances we know of. It's a particulate and has a lot of toxic compounds that are carcinogenic, and by removing that we are reducing exposure in the community directly."

Current Public Works Director Nathan Nguyen thanked the efforts of his predecessor, Mark Dettle, for his work to bring the electric garbage truck to the city before showing off the silence of the truck in action.

"I think everyone can agree and appreciate how quiet this new climate-friendly Mack LR electric truck is," said Nguyen. "The city is grateful to everyone who helped achieve this first zero emissions, all electric refuse truck in Santa Cruz County."

©2023 the Santa Cruz Sentinel, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.