Bucket Truck Dreamin’

By Kennedy Maize

Since we first moved to rural America in 1972, I’ve wanted a bucket truck.

What a useful tool. Tree trimming, gutter cleaning, roof repairs, high-altitude carpentry, painting. The list of uses is probably endless.

But I’ve never actually plunked down the dollars necessary for a bucket truck, even a used model. Never searched E-bay for used equipment. Don’t want to increase my already big carbon footprint (a 1984 Ford F-250 V8, a 1996 Chevy Astro van, a 2004 Toyota Highlander, and a 1990 John Deere 23-HP diesel tractor). More to the point, I don’t want to spend the money. Bucket trucks, even used, aren’t cheap.

And now, my dream has been expanded: I’ve seen the electric bucket truck. Not long ago, I got a news release from Smith Electric Vehicles of Kansas City, Mo., (home of great barbeque) about the world’s first all-electric bucket truck. The vehicle rolled out at an industry conference in Williamsburg, Va., in late June (see photo).

PG&E is getting it. I want it.

PG&E is getting it. I want it.

There’s a (non-BBQ) delicious irony about a high-tech utility vehicle unveiled at America’s foremost theme park for low technology, but I’ll let that pass.

The news release said Pacific Gas & Electric will take the first test unit, which is not quite ready for commercial production. PG&E, maybe America’s most politically correct utility, will run the truck through its paces in its service territory. Good for PG&E.

According to the press release, the truck will have a top speed of 50 mph (that’s a lot more speed than I need around my farm), a range of more than 100 miles on a charge (again, more than I need), a telescoping boom with a height of 37.8 feet and a 28-foot reach. Now you’re talking.

I’m hereby formally volunteering to provide a second test bed for the truck – Sawmill Creek Farm. I’d be more than happy to fly to Kansas City (with a couple of days to luxuriate in Arthur Bryant’s BBQ) and drive the beast home, 100-miles at a time.