SUN COAST MOBILE REFUELING PROGRAM COULD SAVE PEC MORE THAN $1.2 MILLION PER YEAR

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Sun Coast Resources PEC Member.

Sometimes big efficiencies can be found within the most routine tasks. That’s the philosophy behind PECs mobile refueling program, which was implemented earlier this year.

Three times a week, a tanker truck from contractor Sun Coast Resources arrives at PEC district offices between 8 p.m. and 4 a.m. The truck fuels up to four service vehicles at a time, ensuring that when linemen arrive in the morning, their trucks are ready to head out to job sites immediately.

“This program has been a win-win,” said PEC Vice President of Operations Wayne McKee. “It’s expected to save PEC more than $1.2 million per year in labor costs, and it’s freed up more time each day for our guys to focus on what they do best.”

The program got its start last fall as the Co-op was looking for operational efficiencies. Two district directors identified morning gas runs as an area that could be improved. After pilot programs in Canyon Lake and Liberty Hill, mobile refueling was fully implemented in seven of PEC’s eight districts. The Junction district is investigating other options to more efficiently prep its vehicle fleet.

Sun Coast Resources, a highly regarded fuel transporter, refuels about 100 vehicles each night they visit PEC offices, delivering approximately 850 gallons of fuel.

“We estimate it takes a three-man team about 30 minutes to stop for gas,” said PEC System Image source: Sun Coast Resources Maintenance Director James Donley. “Most of the operations vehicles require diesel, and there may be only one diesel pump at a station. When you multiply that time by eight to twelve stops per month across crews in seven PEC districts, it can really add up.”

In addition to the savings on labor, the Co-op will see discounted fuel costs under the new program. Sun Coast Resources offers fuel at the daily market price with a volume-based price break. With the amount of fuel PEC buys — more than $1 million worth last year — even a minor discount can accumulate.

Mobile refueling is also expected to have an impact on restoration times and emergency preparedness. Prefueled trucks allow on-call linemen to immediately head out to the outage location when they arrive at the district office, and during major outage events, Sun Coast Resources can deliver fuel to vehicles in the field while crews continue to work on restoring power.

“Another huge benefit is that we can call Sun Coast before an emergency weather event to have a full tanker of fuel with the Co-op’s name on it parked at the Sun Coast yard near San Antonio or the one near Austin,” said PEC Canyon Lake District Director Jerold Terry.

As with efficiencies implemented in other departments, technology plays a big role. Sun Coast Resources has geo-fenced the PEC district pole yards and bar coded all service vehicles in the Co-op’s fleet. This allows them to track fueling times, fuel amounts and fuel consumption for each vehicle. Data is provided to the districts electronically.

“The reports we receive will help us easily determine fuel efficiency,” Terry said. “We can use the data to drive future purchase decisions.”

The mobile refueling program is part of a larger plan to meet the Co-op’s vision of operational efficiency. District pole yards have been reconfigured for quicker loading, and PEC is currently running a mobile tire pilot program, in which a vendor visits Co-op district offices after hours to inspect, replace and repair service vehicles’ tires. Similar pilot programs are on the docket for oil service and vehicle cleaning.