New Shentel trucks to cut fuel consumption by at least 25 percent

Cara Lord, Shentel fleet coordinator, poses with one of the company's new bucket trucks. Photo courtesy of Shentel Communications.

Shentel will soon be adding three hybrid bucket trucks to its fleet. The trucks still run on diesel engines, but the buckets’ electric lift system could cut fuel costs anywhere from 25 to 33 percent, according to Shentel director of facilities management Bill Sibert.

The new trucks are a solution to unnecessary idle time and fuel consumption.

As the new trucks drive, they recharge the onboard lift system’s battery. When the truck gets to its destination, the driver can kill the engine and operate the bucket off of the charged battery.

“They’re going to cut off at least 25 percent of the fuel consumption that we may normally see,” Sibert said. “That’s because, currently, the entire truck has to sit in idle. Now, when we pull up to the job site, we should be able to cut that off.”

Shentel partnered with Altec, an equipment provider for the telecommunications industry, to produce the new trucks for $89,000 a pop.

Each vehicle took Altec seven months to manufacture, Sibert said, because they have to be able to extend higher than the average bucket truck can handle. Power poles in Shentel’s coverage area can be as tall as 41 feet, higher than most standard telephone poles.

The company now has all of the new trucks on hand, but has not yet deployed the trucks to its active fleet. The trucks will be split among three of the company’s coverage areas: Shenandoah County,  Rustburg, and Wenton, West Virginia.

“Shentel has always been about doing what’s best for our shareholders … Not a lot has changed about our industry, as far as the vehicles that we use to perform work, so when we saw this opportunity, it was something that we wanted to explore,” Sibert said. “This was an excellent opportunity for us to make an improvement that would not only return savings and dividends to our shareholders, but also return to the environment.”