PG&E Partnership Seeks to Reduce Truck Emissions at Oakland Port
SAN FRANCISCO --- Pacific Gas and Electric announced it has partnered with a trucking firm and a transportation company to reduce diesel emissions from trucks at the Port of Oakland. The project is helping to replace aging diesel trucks with cleaner-burning natural-gas vehicles.As the fourth busiest container port in the United States, the Port of Oakland is focused on reducing on-road diesel truck emissions from port operations that impact the West Oakland community. With more than 1,100 natural gas fueled vehicles -- the largest such fleet of any utility in the nation -- PG&E saw an opportunity to develop ways to help the port reduce diesel emissions.In addition to maintaining its own natural gas fleet, PG&E's fleet operation programs have helped fleet operators of school buses, transit systems and refuse collection trucks meet similar goals through education and training programs."There was never any doubt natural gas trucks could do the job physically. The question was, could we work through the unique challenges at the port," said Chris Ferrara, PG&E's clean air transportation program manager. "Working with our partners we were able to highlight natural gas' tremendous safety record and its ease of refueling."The ideas and concepts put forth by PG&E took a leap when Mike Bowden, operator at the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad, got involved. Bowden and PG&E located 10 liquefied natural gas (LNG) trucks to put in service at the port with a local "green" trucking company, CleanAir Transport. According to CleanAir Transport, it's just the beginning. "We really like the idea of being the leader in clean truck technology and using natural gas as one of our key strategies," said Roger Lowther, co-founder of CleanAir Transport.CleanAir Transport intends to purchase or convert up to 70 additional natural gas trucks to serve the Port of Oakland. Natural gas trucks are significantly cleaner than diesel trucks, up to two times as clean, and they emit zero diesel particulate matter, which is a carcinogen. Each vehicle burns no petroleum, displacing about 5,000 gallons of diesel fuel each year.As part of a demonstration project, PG&E loaned CleanAir Transport a first-of-its-kind compressed natural gas (CNG) port shuttle truck and an LNG mobile fueling station to fuel the LNG trucks. LNG trucks have more range because the liquefied fuel takes up less space and its tanks can carry more fuel than CNG vehicles. Plans are underway at the port to build permanent LNG and CNG fueling.PG&E has four LNG trucks awaiting delivery for its own fleet needs and is donating four cleaner diesel trucks with exhaust retrofits for port trucking. The utility hopes this will encourage large trucking companies to consider doing the same so the port can replace older diesel trucks.PG&E is also working on two other LNG fueling station projects at PG&E yards in Sacramento and in Fremont to fuel LNG utility trucks. These will also be open to the public. The Sacramento LNG station is almost completed. Construction on the Fremont LNG station will begin in mid February.