Officials in the city of Ocala made the unanimous decision to buy three of the electric trucks in 2021 and two more in 2022. The trucks are being paid for, in part, by a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
(TNS) — Ocala is one of the first cities in Florida poised to clean up its garbage pickup, replacing diesel-powered sanitation trucks with zero-emission electric-powered vehicles.
On Oct. 6, the Ocala City Council voted unanimously to move forward with the project and purchase three of the new vehicles in 2021 and two more in 2022.
"I am not sure, but I have heard we are the first municipality in Florida to start using these trucks," said John King, Ocala's fleet management director.
The city will buy the trucks using a $777,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, supplemented with nearly $2 million from sanitation reserve funds.
The five new trucks will replace side-hauling garbage trucks powered by heavy-duty diesel engines, said Tami Haslam, the city's budget director.
King said the new trucks will replace older diesel trucks on urban garbage routes. BYD, a Chineses-based company with headquarters in Los Angeles, will make the vehicles.
"This is a pilot program. We want to see what our actual savings are and then decide if we are going to extend the program," he said.
He said the new trucks are roughly 20-30% more expensive than diesel trucks but should be less expensive to maintain and run.
He said a typical diesel-powered truck burns approximately $100 in fuel to cover a route. The electric truck could use as little at $20 in electricity, according to estimates.
"There is no oil to change, no transmission fluid, no belts, sparkplugs or a thousand other moving parts to replace," King said. "Tires and windshield wipers are about the only thing."
More and more municipalities are moving to electric garbage collection, including Tuscon, Arizona.
King said he tested one of the trucks recently and was impressed by its power and lower noise level.
"It is surprisingly fast," he said, compared to the lumbering diesel models.
He estimated the noise of operation was up to 70% less and came mostly from the processes of emptying trash cans using the truck's mechanical arm. Electric vehicles are so quiet, some manufacturers add sound.
The trucks have a range of about 75 miles. They will charge at night when electricity demand drops and will use power from the city-owned Ocala Electric Utility.
"Just on fuel, the potential savings are huge," said King, adding the first truck should arrive by April.
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