Electric-powered, driverless-tractor technology has caught the attention of Mike Faria, a multigenerational dairy and row crop farmer in Tipton, California.
“Running a tractor all the time would definitely save on labor costs, but I want to find out more about how safe it is and the price tag,” said Faria, a Southern California Edison customer.
Faria has been trying to keep up with the hybrid and electric vehicle innovations that SCE has made to its service vehicle fleet and appreciates the company’s efforts to educate customers about how much they can save by switching to a plug-in vehicle.
“SCE delivers our power and educates customers about the benefits of this technology, so I know at some point that we’ll have to eventually switch over to hybrid or electric vehicles on the farm,” he said.
Faria plans to attend the World Ag Expo taking place Tuesday through Thursday in Tulare, California. The utility has been participating in the event for three decades. Faria wants to stop at SCE’s booth to discuss hybrid and electric vehicle technology. Representatives will be there to help answer customer questions.
“We have learned that it’s critical to work closely with companies that specialize in electric conversions,” said Shawn Barge, SCE senior engineer. “We want to extensively test the vehicles before placing them in the field to ensure they fully support the crews while also saving fuel and reducing emissions.”
SCE worked with a hybrid vehicle-tech company to install the latest chassis electrification system on a bucket truck that includes powering lights, cabin cooling and all hydraulic functions with energy provided by two large lithium-ion batteries.
Another company that specializes in vehicle electric conversions partnered with SCE to turn a 2017 GMC Sierra 3500 into a plug-in hybrid vehicle. The truck has a minimum all-electric range of 35 miles and then transitions to hybrid mode. It’s the same range as the standard truck model, but since it uses less fuel, the emissions are much lower.
Customers who attend the World Ag Expo will also have a chance to learn about energy reliability, energy efficiency and public safety.
“Participating in this event provides us with the opportunity to connect with thousands of attendees within the agricultural community and the Central Valley,” said Tod Bartholomay, senior supervisor of Distribution in the San Joaquin region. “SCE’s continued support of this event enables us to showcase our brand and variety of services we offer to our customers.”