San Diego Port Tenants Association Awarded $5.9 Million Grant by California Energy Commission

  • Funds the construction of electric semi-trucks and fork lifts to reduce air emissions and noise
  • Promotes the Port of San Diego’s emissions reduction goals
  • Expands the electrification of transportation into new areas of heavy duty trucking

The California Energy Commission this month awarded the San Diego Port Tenants Association (SDPTA) a $5.9 million grant to fund the development of 10 all-electric freight vehicles outfitted with zero-emission technologies for operation at the Port of San Diego.

The grant award will be matched with $2.3 million in cash and in-kind contributions from the seven partner tenants of the SDPTA: CEMEX, Continental Maritime, Dole Food Company, Harborside Refrigerated Services and Cold Storage, Marine Group Boatworks, Pasha Group and TerminaLift. Together the total project budget is $8.2 million.

“We are incredibly proud of the California Energy Commission grant because it proves our small but committed association is dedicated to protecting the environment,” said George Palermo, chair of the SDPTA. “We partnered with our industrial tenants as well as with San Diego Gas & Electric, the Grant Farm and the Port of San Diego to come out as the top awardee with the Energy Commission. We couldn’t be prouder and we will excel in production of 10 zero-emissions freight vehicles.”

The SDPTA was one of two recipients of the “Freight Transportation Projects at California Seaports” grant program of the California Energy Commission under the Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program (ARFVTP) for the state. The grant is provided to fund demonstration projects for medium- and heavy-duty vehicle technologies, intelligent transportation systems and technologies, and deployment of natural gas vehicles. The vehicles include industrial forklifts, cargo trucks and equipment. The intelligent transportation system will help move and monitor the vehicles. In addition, the grant will pay for outreach to communities whose neighborhoods are adjacent to port operations. 

“As a leader among ports in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the Port of San Diego is always seeking innovative ways to promote sustainability, and we can't 'move the needle' without the support of our tenants. We want to recognize and celebrate the efforts of one of our key partners, the San Diego Port Tenants Association, for securing this grant from the California Energy Commission to fund significant improvements in clean technology for waterfront businesses,” said Port of San Diego Chairman Marshall Merrifield. “This grant award will help us all meet our sustainability goals while we continue the region's economic development.”

The SDPTA, its industrial tenant partners and several subcontractors will develop and demonstrate 10 medium- and heavy-duty vehicles used in port operations. The vehicles will employ zero-emissions technologies and will improve air quality in the Port of San Diego and the surrounding communities. The project ties into the Port of San Diego’s 2013 Climate Action Plan.

The SDPTA and partners will work with leading industrial vendors to develop and build the all-electric freight vehicles. They are BYD, Efficient Drivetrains, Inc. (EDI), and TransPower.  TransPower is a San Diego firm, which will help promote the local economy.  The technology subcontractors are Peloton, GC Green, Greenlining Institute, and carbonBLU.

San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) is supportive of many local clean air initiatives and provided the technical background, which was the backbone of the grant application to the CEC.  The energy company will study the charging patterns of the electric trucks to help maximize the use of renewable energy to power the vehicles.  As more and more electric trucks and cars plug into the grid and charge on clean energy, SDG&E can help reduce local emissions and remove carbon from transportation.  The transportation sector currently accounts for approximately 40% of California’s and 54% of San Diego’s total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. 

“Transportation electrification is crucial to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. There is a groundswell happening in San Diego for switching from gasoline as a fuel source to clean electricity – whether that means making the next car in your driveway an electric vehicle, or replacing heavy duty diesel at our local port with clean electric trucks, which is what this grant will do,” said Mike Schneider, SDG&E’s vice president of operations support and sustainability, and chief environmental officer. “To further support this shift to clean energy, SDG&E has launched an innovative new program called Power Your Drive to install thousands of new electric vehicle charging stations in the community.  In addition to de-carbonizing transportation, we are de-carbonizing the grid by securing more than 33 percent of the energy we deliver to San Diego’s homes and businesses from renewable resources like solar and wind, and we expect to reach 40 percent by 2018.”

Along with SDG&E, the Grant Farm worked with the SDPTA to write and submit the grant and will be part of the team ensuring the grant tasks and project deadlines are met.

“We couldn’t have done it without SDG&E and the Grant Farm helping us every step of the way,” said SDPTA President Sharon Cloward.  “These organizations have been steadfast partners for us and have proved that we can obtain grants and will be successful in obtaining more grants in the future.” 

The SDPTA had the support of a wide variety of regional leaders and organizations in its grant application including, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, the South County Economic Development Council, the Climate Action Campaign, and San Diego Coastkeeper among others.

About the San Diego Port Tenants Association

Formed in 1989, the SDPTA is a non-profit organization made up of member businesses and industries that lease land from the Port of San Diego. The SDPTA is dedicated to enhancing trade, commerce and tourism on San Diego Bay’s tidelands while protecting the environment. For more information, visit

SDG&E joins the San Diego Port Tenants Association (SDPTA) the celebrate a $5.9 million grant to fund the development of 10 all-electric freight vehicles outfitted with zero-emission technologies for operation at the Port of San Diego.
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