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Friday, August 20, 2021

Ocala sanitation fleet debuts new electric-powered trucks

The City of Ocala is debuting a new set of electric-powered refuse trucks as part of its sanitation fleet.

The City of Ocala will be among the early adopters of the new technology in the country, and one of the first cities to implement these sanitation trucks in the State of Florida. The Ocala City Council approved the purchase of the electric refuse trucks to be added to the fleet line. The city received delivery of three trucks in July 2021, with an additional purchase of two more vehicles scheduled for 2022.

In May 2020, the City of Ocala received a $777,000 Diesel Emission Reduction Act Award grant from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to replace heavy-duty diesel-fueled trucks with zero-emission electric-powered refuse trucks. The initiative to transition a segment of the diesel fleet to electric power, which will be sourced from Ocala Electric Utility (OEU), will result in fuel cost savings, reduced diesel emissions and operational efficiencies. The electric-powered refuse trucks will be used on residential routes and are 70% quieter than their diesel counterparts. The trucks have an operating range of approximately 125 miles and will be charged overnight (off-peak hours) via 40kWh battery chargers.

“Due to the quiet nature of the electric garbage trucks, we want to encourage residents to place their garbage cans out the night before or first thing in the morning,” states Darren Park, City of Ocala Public Works Director. “People often listen for the sound of the garbage trucks coming down the street to bring their trash out, however, people won’t be able to hear these trucks.”

The city estimates the long-term cost savings are worth the initial investment, as electric-powered trucks cost less to repair and maintain. The new vehicles consume about $30 of electric energy per route, compared to the estimated $130 per route with a traditional diesel vehicle. Combined with the fuel cost savings, the electric trucks are estimated to provide a total life cycle savings of approximately $270,000.  These savings translate to a significant return on investment for taxpayers.

“We are investing in our community, not only by providing a cost savings to our residents, but also promoting a healthy environment,” said John King, City of Ocala Fleet and Facilities Management Director. “These zero-emission vehicles will lessen the impact on our environment and improve the air quality for citizens that may be predisposed to respiratory issues caused by diesel exhaust.”

The electric-powered trucks will be deployed in early September and will be used for residential routes where a side loader sanitation truck is traditionally used. Staff is currently being trained on the new vehicles to ensure continued focus on customer efficiency and effectiveness on service routes.

“We hope that the community will remain supportive while we pilot this new technology. The City of Ocala wants to continue to be forward-thinking and drive our decisions based on what is best for our citizens,” said King.