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City of Ocala Running Cleaner Routes with Electric Garbage Trucks

Written by Samuel Beaver, Tampa Bay Clean Cities Coalition Intern

September 27, 2022

Tampa Bay Clean Cities Coalition partnered with the City of Ocala to host a site visit showcasing the city’s new fully electric refuse haulers to Tampa-area stakeholders. John King, Director of Fleet and Facilities for the City of Ocala, presented the city’s experience with piloting the electric garbage haulers, highlighting the planning and implementation process as well as the mechanical aspects and financial savings. Those in attendance included representatives from the Hillsborough County Solid Waste Department, TECO Energy and the City of Clearwater.

Attendees learned about the process Ocala went through to get the electric refuse haulers from BYD Auto and Mack Trucks on the road. The Mack trucks have no hydraulics and operate on an electric refuse body and vehicle chassis, which each have different charging ports that can be simultaneously charged. The trucks produce zero emissions from the tailpipe.

While the electricity used to charge the trucks is not zero emissions, Ocala is working to install solar panels on site capable of fully charging the haulers. Each of these trucks saves about 230 tons of CO2 annually, which equates to 20,465 gallons of diesel emissions that are not being released into the atmosphere.

For the pilot initiative, King noted three factors he considered during the planning phase.

“We looked at the environmental benefits, the cost of ownership, and operational efficiencies. We need to look at cost because the trucks are expensive; they cost more than the traditional diesel trucks that the city is used to buying,” King said. “We also need to think about operational efficiency—diesel is time-tested and has been on the road forever. If we’re replacing them with an alternative, it has to meet or beat what the diesel trucks are doing in the field. We serve 1,000 residences on a 75- to 90-mile route every day… electric trucks have to meet or beat that.”

King also shared the financial benefits of owning these haulers. While the truck itself is more expensive to purchase than its diesel counterpart, the overall life cycle savings have amounted to more than $310,000 for the city. This is in part due to the large grants available via the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) for municipalities looking to make the change. The annual fuel and maintenance costs are significantly lower for electric than for diesel trucks as well. Ocala reported an annual savings of just under $30,000 for each truck, resulting in a return of investment of -0.6 years.

“In comparison, an electric truck consumes about $30 worth of electric energy per route versus a diesel route at $130. Zero emissions are good for the Ocala community, especially for those with respiratory problems. We will not be polluting the air with hydrocarbons and other diesel toxins.”

Following the presentation, attendees were allowed to ride in the haulers to experience the new technology firsthand. The trucks accelerate significantly quicker than the diesel haulers and therefore required drivers to be retrained.

In addition, the range of these trucks depends greatly on how the truck is driven. For example, if the driver is more aggressive when accelerating, the range will decrease because it takes more energy to accelerate quickly. The driver also demonstrated the new loading technology featured in the Mack truck.

Unlike diesel haulers, electric Mack haulers do not use hydraulics to power the arm, but instead use an electric system that has wires running down the length of the arm delivering power from the truck to the arm system. One of the benefits of garbage truck body electrification is that an electric arm operates much quieter than a hydraulic one.

The event was exceptionally educational and highlighted both the environmental and financial benefits of investing in electric refuse haulers.

As a member of the Central Florida Clean Cities Coalition (CFLCCC), the City of Ocala partners with its local coalition dedicated to supporting efficient, clean, and sustainable transportation fuel use.

“John King, the City of Ocala and Marion County are our newest Central Florida Coalition members. John’s long-time use of alternative fuels and his recent adoption of electric refuse vehicles only hints at the deep commitment to his communities’ needs, their health, and their environment” Doug Kettles, Executive Director of CFLCC

To learn more about the City of Ocala’s electrification pilot, visit the CFLCCC video site.

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