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Port of Los Angeles Shifts Toward Natural Gas, Electricity and Alternative Fuels to Reduce Emissions

The ports of LA and Long Beach are the busiest on the West Coast and third in the world.

The Port of Los Angeles is planning a major shift in purchasing road haul trucks and in-port cargo handling equipment that run on Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), electric power and other alternative fuel sources such as hydrogen fuel cells and biofuels rather than conventional diesel.

Bruce E. Seaton, interim executive director at the Port of Los Angeles, announced the Port’s plans to pay the full price of new CNG or LNG trucks (and comparable electric vehicles if and when they become available) up to a specified annual budget as approved by the Harbor Commission.

The Port has approximately $20 million in its current fiscal year budget to initiate the change in its clean air strategy.

This groundbreaking shift away from diesel-powered trucks and yard equipment in and around the Port of Los Angeles is what I mean by clean growth. We have some funds to move forward in this new direction, but we are also looking forward to partnering with the Air Resources Board and the South Coast Air Quality Management District for both technical and financial support.

—Harbor Commission President S. David Freeman

Harbor Commission President David Freeman, profiled in this piece in the SF Chronicle, is targeting reductions in emissions by 80% or more.

His real goal, he said, is to show how cutting-edge technologies, which he intends to employ aggressively and pioneer at the port, can bring about a radical shift away from fossil fuels by industrial users nationwide. “Ports can lead the way to an end of our dependence on oil,” said Freeman, appointed this summer as chairman of Los Angeles’ powerful harbor commission. “There is a patriotic commitment to this.”

The primarily LNG-focused truck modernization program would target truck owner-operators that have the oldest, dirtiest diesel rigs and make the highest frequency of calls to Los Angeles container terminals. Those owner-operators would turn in their old rigs for disposal, in exchange for new trucks with alternative-fueled—especially LNG—engines.

The Port will do the same for cargo handling equipment used by its tenants as part of a redirection of its 2005-2006 Near-Term Air Quality Measures, which include modernizing yard tractor and cargo handling equipment used in terminals throughout the Port.

The Port will explore the development of one or more LNG and CNG fueling stations within the Port, as well as a delivery system for a sustaining supply of such fuels. Seaton also confirmed that the Port would explore other alternative fuels for powering road haul trucks and yard equipment, such as hydrogen fuel cells and the use of biofuels.

Last week Yusen Terminals Inc. (YTI), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tokyo-based NYK Line, announced it was putting LNG-fueled yard tractors into service at its terminal in the Port of Los Angeles, becoming the first US marine terminal operator to use the fuel for vehicles. (Earlier post.)

A recent study by the California Air Resources Board concluded that the ports of Los Angeles and Lon Beach contributed some 21% of the total PM emissions to the South Coast Air Basin. (Earlier post.)

Separately, the Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners approved Memorandums of Agreement with five companies operating in the Port of Los Angeles to purchase or repower maritime equipment that will ultimately eliminate an estimated 120 tons of diesel particulate matter (PM) and 313 tons of nitrogen oxide (NOx) from the air.

The agreements provide more than $800,000 of funding for these projects out of the Port's Air Quality Mitigation Program.

The five companies signing Agreements in this round are:

  • Jankovich Company, which will purchase and install diesel particulate matter filters on seven supply trucks

  • L.A. Harbor Bait Company, which will repower two older commercial fishing vessels and one bait barge with newer, cleaner engines

  • South Sound Fishery, which will repower its commercial fishing vessel and power skiff with reduced emissions engines

  • Traylor Bros., which will repower its construction barge engines, and other related equipment, with new, cleaner engines

  • Westoil Marine Services, which will repower the auxiliary engines on one harbor vessel and four fuel barges with lower emission

In addition, APL will replace 24 existing yard tractors with new, Tier 3 on-road engines.

Presumably, such agreements in the future will reflect the more aggressive stance toward shifting to natural gas and other alternatives.

There are a number of different identified approaches to reducing emissions from the port, including:

  • Shore power: eliminating the need for ships to run their engines to provide power while docked. Comparable to idling emissions in long-haul trucks, on-board ship generation of electricity produces some 20% of the total in-port emissions.

  • Cleaner fuels, such as ULSD

  • Hybrids and alternative fuels for terminal operations

  • Increasing electrification of terminals

Perhaps with Freeman running the Harbor Commission more of these proposals will come to pass.

(A hat-tip to Marc Rumminger!)



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