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Port of Long Beach opens 1st public EV drayage truck charging station – Press Telegram

The first of two public charging stations for electric trucks serving the San Pedro Bay Complex was unveiled Friday, Nov. 18, at the Port of Long Beach.

But there’s still a long road ahead as the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach rush to transition to a cleaner environment.

The station, at the Clean Truck Program Terminal Access Center, 1265 Harbor Ave., in Long Beach, was created in partnership with EV Connect and will be used for heavy-duty, electric drayage trucks entered into the port service registry.

With a deadline of 2035 to transition to an all zero-emissions truck fleet, both the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles face a big challenge as they work with government agencies to create the infrastructure needed to support the changeover.

“This is the first of many, many, many (charging stations) we’re going to need,” Heather Tomley, managing director of Planning and Environmental Affairs for the Port of Long Beach, said in an interview after a brief ceremony on Friday.

But the transition, she said, is also complicated by what is a fast-changing evolution in emissions-free technology, with the ports both trying to keep up in planning for future infrastructure.

Among the developments on the horizon showing promise, Tomley said, are longer-range batteries, batteries that require shorter charge times and fuel cell technology.

Currently, there are 36 zero-emissions trucks — among abut 20,000 — registered to serve the twin ports. Three of those are fuel-cell trucks being tried out as a demonstration project.

Among the downsides of the current generation of EV trucks are long charge times and the cost to buy them, which run in the $350,000 range.

“This is just a start,” Tomley said.

“It’s moving fast,” she said of the technology evolution, adding that the outlook includes using hybrid technologies and a mix of zero-emissions trucks, some now still in the demonstration stage.

The current EV trucks, on average, have about a 250-mile range. Both full-charging and shorter, “top off” charging stations like the one unveiled Friday will be needed.

For a few of the truck drivers who attended Friday’s unveiling, it’s the purchase cost that, for now, is a non-starter in their worlds.

“We can’t do that,” Jobed Gomez said about the purchase price alone.

He recently purchased a used low-emissions 2016 diesel truck for $58,000, but that is also costing him heavily now in registration taxes, he said.

Sitting with him was driver A. Ruiz Vicente, who said he’ll retire soon from his own business as an owner-operator — but he agreed the cost of the new trucks is prohibitive.

Driver Hector Majera, 54, said he and his family will soon relocate to Houston, where the environmental requirements aren’t as strict.

“They don’t require any of that,” he said, “only California is giving (us) a lot of problems.”

But incentives are now available for drivers to buy newer, zero-emissions trucks, Tomley said, including a $50,000 credit.

A survey commissioned by the Port of Los Angeles in 2021 interviewed 407 drivers and found the median age of port drivers to be 47, with 97% of them male and about three-quarters Latino or Hispanic; more than two-thirds are immigrants and most have one to two dependent children. Most also reported being the sole family supporters and making $57,000 a year.

Port officials are banking on government assistance to help fund drivers buy or lease new trucks. Once a used EV truck market begins to emerge, prices are expected to go down some.

The ports also charge a truck fee now, paid by cargo owners and designed in the first year to put about $90 million in a fund to help pay for the change over. Long Beach harbor commission President Sharon Weissman, in an interview following the presentation, said the board also can decide to increase that fee — something environmentalists pushed for — but won’t consider that until after the first year winds up in April, so officials can assess the fee’s success.

“We want to make sure we work all the bugs out,” Weissman said, adding that so far, it appears the program is running smoothly.

The fee, which began on April 1, collects $10 per twenty-foot equivalent unit — the universal container measurement, though most are larger than that — on certain loaded drayage trucks entering or leaving container terminals at the twin ports, the two busiest in the nation. (POLB exempts both zero-emissions and near-ZEV trucks from the fee; POLA only exempts entirely ZEV trucks.)

“Some companies also are looking to purchase (EV) fleets and leasing or renting trucks by the job,” Weissman said, as one way to help in what will be an expensive transition.

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