International builds hybrid truck for Chicago utility company

ComEd, which supplies electricity to millions in the Chicago area, has added a diesel-electric hybrid bucket truck to its fleet.

Built by Eaton and International Truck and Engine, the truck gets up to 60 percent better fuel economy than a diesel truck. During a blackout, while its crew works to restore power, the truck also can supply 25 kilowatts of electricity to the neighborhood, enough to power more than a dozen houses.

Diesel bucket trucks must idle while employees use the bucket. The hybrid truck can operate the bucket with an electric motor for up to two hours while the diesel engine is shut off.

ComEd displayed the new truck May 9 at the DuPage Club in Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.

“We believe that diesel-electric hybrid technology can be made commercially viable, and appreciate the shared vision of utilities like ComEd to prove out this technology on a broader scale,” said Tom Cellitti, an International vice president.

John Skolds, president of Exelon Energy Delivery, ComEd’s parent, said he hopes the company’s involvement will lead to accelerated development and mainstream acceptance of heavy-duty hybrids.

ComEd also bought more than 50 Ford Escape hybrids. Hybrids now make up almost 25 percent of the company’s SUV fleet, used by supervisors and inspectors throughout its service territory.