LITTLE ROCK, AR - Entergy Arkansas recently put three of its 10 new leased hybrid trucks into service in the Little Rock area. While similar to other Entergy Arkansas, Inc. line trucks - large, painted white with an Entergy logo and a bucket stretched across the back - the new models have a long green stripe stretched across the sides to identify them as hybrids and will help save the company fuel, reduce emissions, and provide added safety on the work site.

In 2008, Entergy vehicles in Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas used 5,868,900 gallons of both gasoline and diesel fuel at a total cost of $21,157,000. Of those, 1,200 were medium-duty trucks (bucket trucks), and 3,000 were light-duty cars and pickups. The Entergy Arkansas fleet has 312 medium-duty trucks, including the three new hybrids.

The three new hybrid trucks add to the fleet average 6.09 miles per gallon. The standard version of the same vehicle averages 4.96 miles per gallon. Assuming 20,000 miles a year, this will save about 748 gallons per year per truck, according to the company.

Three years ago, Entergy Arkansas was one of 14 utility companies to participate in a nationwide pilot of hybrid service trucks. The results of that pilot validated the decision to invest in more hybrids. The original truck used in the pilot in Arkansas is still in service today and has been as reliable as the conventional trucks, said the company.

While operating the vehicle is similar to driving a standard-issue diesel bucket truck, a noticeable difference comes after stopping at a job site. Normally, the noisy diesel engine powers the boom that lifts the lineman to work on aerial power lines. In the hybrid, the power comes from the quiet electric motor. It is during these idling times that the hybrid vehicle is expected to cut down most on fuel consumption. Standard diesel trucks burn one gallon of diesel fuel per hour when idling. The company expects to save $2-3 per hour per hybrid truck by using electric motors for boom operation.

In addition, the battery system not only powers the hydraulic unit during boom operations, it provides drive assistance until the vehicle reaches about 20 mph.