Alectra Utilities' electric bucket truck.
Alectra Utilities and Toronto Hydro announced plans this week to each incorporate an electric bucket truck into their operations. Photo: Alectra Utilities

The utilities are introducing the fully electric bucket trucks to their fleets in field and training yard pilots to assess their potential for regular and more widespread deployment

Two Ontario-based utilities are taking steps to transition their fleets to electric with the introduction of fully electric bucket trucks.

Alectra Utilities and Toronto Hydro announced plans this week to each incorporate an electric bucket truck into their operations. The move is part of both companies’ plans to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 and 2040, respectively.

The all-electric double bucket trucks are built on an International eMV chassis. Connecticut-based Terex Utilities manufactures them. Terex is a global manufacturer of bucket trucks and digger derricks for the electric utility industry.

Terex unveiled its electric bucket truck to the market in June 2022. At that point it had already received orders from nine utility providers, including SaskPower.

Alectra nine-month pilot launch

The trucks will serve a common purpose for both Alectra and Toronto Hydro: to support power line technicians in their daily overhead line maintenance operations.

“The addition of our first fully electric bucket truck marks a significant step towards electrification,” said Chris Hudson, senior vice-president of network operations for Alectra in a press comment.

“Integrating this cutting-edge vehicle into our fleet is part of our commitment to reducing our carbon footprint and fostering a cleaner energy future.” 

Alectra’s operations team will begin a nine-month pilot project to incorporate the electric bucket truck into its fleet.

The main goal of the pilot project is to “evaluate the practicality and potential of this vehicle for future deployment,” says Alectra.

During the pilot phase, Alectra will rotate the truck among three of its largest service centres. These areas are Markham, Hamilton and Brampton.

Alectra estimates using the electric bucket truck will have an environmental impact nearly equivalent to removing two passenger vehicles from the road, based on the average annual Canadian vehicle emissions.

Alectra is also planning to expand its fleet to include three Ford E-Transits and four Plug-in hybrid electric Ford Escapes in its field operations.

Toronto Hydro training yard pilot

Toronto Hydro will conduct pilot tests in its training yard before incorporating the electric bucket truck into service.

“The fully electric bucket truck is expected to be put into service in the training yard by early October,” says Daniel McNeil, corporate spokesperson for Toronto Hydro, in an email statement to Electric Autonomy.

The training yard will serve as a controlled environment for testing operational equipment. It also gives utility employees an opportunity to learn and refine their skills operating the EV.

“The truck will remain in the training yard until the pilot has shown that it can be used safely and effectively,” says McNeil.

Once the pilot is complete, Toronto Hydro will start using the truck. It anticipates this will be early next year.

“Toronto Hydro is proud to…integrate a fully electric bucket truck into its operations,” says McNeil, in a press statement.

“This is a major milestone that demonstrates our ongoing commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from our operations, including through the electrification of our fleet.”

In 2022, Toronto Hydro reduced its annual fleet fuel consumption and emissions by around 11 per cent compared to 2021. It did this through initiatives such as incorporating electric and hybrid vehicles, utilizing bio-fuels and adopting anti-idling technology.

Toronto Hydro’s electric fleet currently includes the fully electric bucket truck, 13 battery electric vehicles and 53 hybrid vehicles.