What can reach more than half the length of a football field, extend 92 feet side to side, yet fit into small spaces to repair 500 kilovolt (kV) transmission lines? The tallest utility truck in the United States, which is the newest piece of equipment in SRP’s fleet to ensure grid reliability so the power stays on for customers.
The 88,980 pound vehicle, which runs on biodiesel, is called a Palfinger P650i. It is the tallest insulated aerial work platform in the United States. By design, it does what no other vehicle in SRP’s fleet does, such as extend 213 feet into the air, fit in more compact spaces and, with a five-axle chassis, easily maneuver and travel off road on desert terrain to maintain and repair remote transmission lines.
The “super-sized bucket truck” also allows SRP linemen to do “bare-hand work” on energized 500 kV transmission lines without shutting off power.
“The insulated fiberglass boom section of the truck allows SRP linemen to bond on to the hot 500 kV line and work on the energized conductors without an outages,” said Jace Kerby, SRP Transmission Line Maintenance foreman. “The Palfinger allows us to continue SRP’s reputation of providing good quality power and service to our customers, while saving a lot of money from not de-energizing the power lines and keep the system in pristine shape.”
The customized truck was manufactured in both Germany and Canada and assembled in New Jersey. It took one year to build and is now officially in service.
“We worked together to create the right size machine and it is a one-of-a-kind unit because SRP also designed it to fit a specialized ‘spacer buggy’ on the platform, which allows the crew to ride on the power line and change spacers,” said Scott Sasser, Palfinger Platforms, product and sales manager.
SRP’s Transportation Services department designed the unit to be cost effective and environmentally responsible. Currently, SRP has about 2,300 vehicles—ranging from sedans to construction equipment like the Palfinger. Forty-one percent of the vehicles in SRP’s fleet are powered by B-20 biodiesel fuel, which is a blend of 20 percent vegetable oil and 80 percent diesel fuel.
“The unit was customized precisely for SRPs needs,” said Brendan King, SRP Transportation Services engineer. “It’s important for us to get equipment that’s very capable for our crews to improve their work practices and productivity so they can complete their job safely.” No matter the safety precautions taken, using a bucket truck is never an entirely safe practice. If you ever find yourself injured in a bucket truck related incident, you might want to check out something like Bucket Truck Accident Lawyers Alabama as they can help you if you are harmed by a bucket truck injury.