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Port of Los Angeles Gases Up with Clean Energy

The Los Angeles Harbor Commission has approved spending $44.3 million for natural gas-powered trucks in the port, which combined with that of neighboring Long Beach makes up the nation's busiest harbor and one that has suffered from some of the most polluted air in the Los Angeles Basin. In its 2009 Clean Truck Incentive Program, Seal Beach, CA-based Clean Energy expects to provide the majority of the 1,000 alternative-fueled trucks targeted by the end of this year.

Clean Energy provides the infrastructure and fuel as either compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquefied natural gas (LNG) to power trucks -- replacing the ones that run on diesel fuel. In addition, the port is investing in lithium battery electric-powered vehicles, too.

Clean Energy said the port last year put more than 2,200 trucks in service that now meet or exceed the 2007 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) emission standards. Since last October the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles combined have reduced air pollution by more than 23%, the LA port said.

"Our goal is to put 1,000 alternative fuel trucks into service through our 2009 program, and the funding our board just approved is a major step in that direction," said LA Port Executive Director Geraldine Knatz. "Natural gas technologies offer a variety of environmental benefits that make them a good fit for drayage in this market."

Under the port's program, truck operators are provided help purchasing the alternative fuel trucks. Truck operators can get up to $80,000 for each LNG or CNG truck they purchase, and similarly, they can receive up to 80% of the negotiated cost of each electric truck purchased for terminal or drayage truck use. The port's 1,000-truck 2009 goal calls for 900 CNG or LNG vehicles and 100 electric trucks.

Alternative fuel trucks acquired this year will cost an estimated $100 million, or an average of $100,000/vehicle, according to the port.

The port is applying for grants from the U.S. Department of Energy, the California Air Resources Board and the California Energy Commission. Within the next 30 days, the port of LA will publish program guidelines and will begin accepting letters of interest, Knatz said.

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