All-electric trash trucks will cost much more than the current versions

Get ready folks, your trash bills will be growing soon. That doesn’t mean that the service would get any better than it already is, it just means that the cost to your local solid waste utility is going to go up significantly because the state of California will begin requiring the acquisition of fully electric trash collection vehicles after Dec. 31, 2023.

Recently the Lompoc City Council discussed a request to purchase 10 new side-loading solid waste collection vehicles; the staff report accompanying this request revealed some of the fiscal and supply chain problems that will start occurring next year for every solid waste utility in California.

Lompoc city staff says, “The development of fully electric solid waste collection vehicles is in its initial stages. As such, there are limited options for electric solid waste collection vehicles that would meet the needs of the city’s collections operations. In addition, substantial improvements to the city’s electric distribution system will likely have to be made to provide for electrification of the city’s vehicle fleet.”

This is only part of the increased costs; all-electric trucks will cost much more than the current versions, and new maintenance processes would have to be developed to service and repair these trucks and their various components. In addition, the staff report didn’t try to speculate on the cost of upgrading the electrical system to handle the new load requirements.

The staff report continues: “If the solid waste utility were to opt to be a first adopter of electric collection vehicles, it is likely the utility would need to increase the number of front-line collection vehicles needed to operate the current routes without impacting customer service levels.”

And, “Moving forward, increases in the level of services due to regulatory mandates, and increases in volume by customers, would require the acquisition of two collection vehicles annually, on an ongoing basis, to continue providing the required level of service to customers. However, the pending California mandate requiring electrified collection vehicles makes that orderly replacement cycle problematic.

“To retain an adequate complement of vehicles, while waiting for mature electrified collection vehicle options, requires the Solid Waste Division to acquire enough classically powered collection vehicles now to continue to provide orderly services to customers. Any expansion of services due to the construction of new housing developments will likely increase the number of collection vehicles needed on a daily basis beyond this recommended purchase.”

The state of California in its misguided effort to convert the vehicle fleet to all-electric vehicles has created an unsustainable situation for municipalities and private sector solid waste collection enterprises in the coming decades. The shallow thinkers in state level government, including Gov. Gavin Newsom, don’t seem to be able to grasp what it would take to provide either the vehicles or the ability to recharge and maintain them.

Of course, they aren’t worried about the cost because state government is only “mandating” the change and not paying for it. The only time they will see the cost is when their trash collection bills at home start increasing at a dramatic rate to absorb the additional cost for service.

The Lompoc City Council, based on the solid waste utility recommending the proactive acquisition of reliable diesel vehicles, will act prior to Dec. 31. But that isn’t all, “As a high-value, long-life vehicle, the collection vehicles are intended to be secured by capital lease financing over a seven-year period to match the estimated operational life of the vehicles.”

The current council is being aggressive and looking out for ratepayers while fixing mistakes made in 2013 by a former mayor and council majority that couldn’t see beyond the meeting in progress and mitigate cost increases we would otherwise be exposed to beginning in 2024. The current council is doing the right thing!

What we really need is new leadership at the state level who can think beyond the rantings of “Earth saving” environmentalists and make decisions based on the potential impacts to the citizens they serve because of the mandates they are considering.

Ron Fink writes to the Sun from Lompoc. Send a letter for publication to [email protected].