The Green Machines Take to the Streets

The Wells Rural Electric Co. hybrids—the Green Machines—make regular appearances at community events.

WREC continues to seek ways to make the most of technology and benefit members

We love our Green Machines. Whether we’re dressing them up for parades and Halloween events, or using them to shuttle to community gatherings, our neon green Ford C-Max Energi hybrids make it impossible to miss WREC employees when they are out in the community.

As much fun as we have had using the vehicles to promote our cooperative and as effective as they have been as mobile billboards, they were chosen for very different—more practical—reasons.

The WREC Board of Directors chose to incorporate electric vehicle technology—gasoline/electric hybrids in this case—so WREC could inform our members about a quickly emerging technology.

It seems every major vehicle manufacturer now offers a hybrid or fully electric vehicle. Tesla’s Model S has been the top-selling luxury sedan, regardless of fuel source, on several occasions. The company had half a million people pay $1,000 to pre-order the upcoming, more affordable Model 3.

When it comes to the Green Machine, we can comfortably say the promise of greater fuel efficiency is true. There are now two hybrids in the company fleet: one in Wells and one at our Carlin office. We plan to add a third in Wendover. The vehicles get between 35 and 40 miles a gallon with a mix of community and highway use. US News & World Report states a battery-only range of 20 miles in all-electric mode, although that depends on the terrain and driving conditions.

We’ve noticed the biggest difference in hybrid mode when the electric motors kick in when idling or driving downhill. The batteries use about 90 percent of available energy during braking to recharge the batteries. We are not encouraging anyone to trade in their diesel pickup for an EV quite yet, but we can confidently say available technology already offers tremendous fuel efficiency, comfort and luxury as commuter options.

The future of electric vehicles is particularly tied to the state of Nevada. With Tesla’s multibillion-dollar investment in northern Nevada and Faraday’s presence in southern Nevada, the state is emerging as something of an EV hub nationally. For that reason, Gov. Brian Sandoval is working to make all of Nevada’s freeways and highways accessible to EV drivers through his Nevada Electric Highway Initiative. WREC has been working closely with the Governor’s Office of Energy to take advantage of its incentive program to identify sites within our service territory necessary to connecting all of the state’s thoroughfares with electric vehicle charging infrastructure.