They are a common sight around the company and across the state. PSE&G’s fleet of more than 400 bucket trucks travel tens of thousands of miles annually doing routine maintenance work, installing new equipment and completing storm restoration repairs. These trucks play a critical role in making PSE&G one of the nation’s most reliable electric utilities and, more importantly, keeping lineworkers safe.
But even though the white trucks with the telltale orange stripes are a familiar part of the New Jersey landscape, few people know just how sophisticated these vehicles really are:
- PSE&G bucket trucks are built by Altec, Terex and Versalift East, primarily on Freightliner-powered chassis. Depending on the model, they can weigh between 15 and 30 tons. Their lifespan is approximately 10 years.
- The trucks are powered by diesel engines that produce between 250 and 400 horsepower and 700 to 900 pound-feet of torque. PSE&G bucket trucks run on biodiesel fuel, which is a blend of conventional diesel and soy products.
- High-visibility orange paint and reflective stripes remind the driver that the boom extends in front of the truck and also warns oncoming traffic if the boom is maneuvered into a travel lane when a crew is working on an active road.
- Outriggers are used when the boom is deployed. Most trucks have four outriggers that keep the vehicle stabilized.
- The booms are made of fiberglass to reduce electric conductivity and are tested every six months to ensure the safety of both operators and the crew on the ground. They are rated for 46,000 volts of electricity. Booms on PSE&G trucks come in a variety of sizes depending on the work being performed. Streetlight units utilize a 37-foot boom, while the most common overhead construction trucks have a boom measuring 55 feet. PSE&G trucks with the largest booms are used for electric transmission lines and range in size from 67 feet to 180 feet.
- Hydraulics systems on most PSE&G bucket trucks are powered by the truck’s engine. However, there are also trucks in the PSE&G fleet that operate on battery-powered hydraulics to save fuel and reduce emissions. The cabs of these trucks are climate controlled via the same battery power to reduce fuel consumption and emissions and also create a quieter environment for workers.
- PSE&G bucket trucks have a great deal of attention to detail, especially safety related items. For example, all railings are painted high-visibility orange and steps are painted yellow to increase worker safety and decrease the possibility of an accidental slip-and-fall.
- There are separate controls to move the boom both inside the bucket and on the truck.
- The buckets on the trucks are also made of fiberglass and need to be kept clean and covered to reduce the chance of accumulating dirt or standing water, both of which conduct electricity. There is a heavy plastic liner inside the bucket that provides the lineworker with additional insulation from electric currents. These liners are also tested and changed out every six months. Lineworkers tether their safety harnesses to connections inside the bucket for safety.