The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has purchased a fleet of battery-electric utility vehicles to allow federal employees working at Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia River in the state of Washington to move people and equipment in a more environmentally friendly way.
The bureau added 27 EXV2 and EXV4 Patriots built by e-ride Industries of Princeton, Minn., for the nation’s largest hydropower complex. The vehicles were outfitted specifically for use around the mile-wide dam, which covers 18 square miles and includes transmission yards and four power plants.
"They are low-cost, low-maintenance vehicles that help us meet our greenhouse gas emission goals set by the White House," said David Walsh, a bureau spokesman. "In addition, they meet a real dire need for vehicles. We've grown by about 150 employees within the last three or four years, so there's been a shortage of vehicles available."
In an effort to become more environmentally friendly, the bureau needed to find a way to cut down on fossil fuel usage, Walsh said.
“There are a lot of short trips we do," Walsh said. "To go from one end of the power plant to another is quite a drive, and it's usually just to pick up this part, deliver that item, or pick up two or three people to go work a job site or perform a task."
The vehicles are designed to handle a 1,000-pound payload, and reach a top speed of 25 mph with enough torque to make it up steep grades around the power plant complex. The vehicles powered by energy generated by the dam.
"We can get 50 miles of usage off of a single charge, so we set up a number of plug-in areas at various buildings,” said Walsh.
With the help of these electric vehicles, Grand Coulee will be able to cut spending on gasoline and diesel.
"[We] spend over $100,000 on fossil fuel each year," said Matt Tillman, Grand Coulee's administrative officer. "We're expecting to be able to cut that consumption by 10-15%.”
The 14 four-passenger models cost $32,381 each, while the 13 two-passenger utility models cost $32,902.
The dam's operators will be able to retire several vehicles that are currently in use that are fossil-fueled and don’t get as good mileage.
To see a video of the fleet in action, click here.