In a move that absolutely nobody could have seen coming, New York City is scrapping its brilliant idea for electric garbage trucks after finding out the truck simply “aren’t powerful enough to plow snow”.
The pipe dream of converting the city’s 6,000 garbage trucks from gas to electric in order to try and limit carbon emissions (because there’s no other problems that need to be dealt with in New York City right now) is “clashing with the limits of electric-powered vehicles,” Gothamist wrote this week.
The city’s current trucks run on diesel and can be fitted with plows in the winter.
Despite the shortcomings, the city Department of Sanitation’ has already ordered seven electric rear loader garbage trucks, custom-made by Mack, the report says. Those trucks cost an astonishing $523,000 each and are to be delivered this spring.
Sanitation Commissioner Jessica Tisch told the NYC city council earlier this month: “We found that they could not plow the snow effectively – they basically conked out after four hours. We need them to go 12 hours. Given the current state of the technology, I don’t see today a path forward to fully electrifying the rear loader portion of the fleet by 2040.”
“We can’t really make significant progress in converting our rear loader fleet until the snow challenges are addressed,” she continued.
Many other cities don’t use their garbage trucks to plow snow, the report notes. Places that get a lot of snow, like Denver, have their own committed light duty trucks outfitted with plows, which operate more efficiently.
New York City, however, has committed to plowing each street and doing so by putting the city’s 2,100 trucks to work to clear the “equivalent of 19,000 miles of street lanes”.
In addition to…well, not being able to get the job done, charging has also been a holdup with electric trucks, Tisch said: “..this charging infrastructure requires additional space and often new electrical utility connections that can require substantial capital investments.”
Harry Nespoli, the president of Teamsters Local 831 union representing sanitation workers also isn’t sold on the idea: “How much power do they have? Can they run 12-hour shifts without a charge? I don’t know.”
Sanitation spokesperson Vincent Gragnani concluded: “With current technology, full electrification isn’t possible now for some parts of our fleet, but we are monitoring closely and really hope it will be.”
Let us know how that turns out, Vinny.