The air around the Port of Oakland may get a little cleaner thanks to a $5.2 million federal grant for electrical power upgrades, port officials announced.

The grant money may be used to build a fuel cell site, install solar panels, replace an electrical substation, and connect the substation to a biomass generator. Port officials envision eliminating emissions from port operations.

“This grant from the Maritime Administration is an important moment in helping us take another step toward our goal of zero emissions from maritime operations,” said Danny Wan, executive director of the Port.

More money is needed to reach that goal. Port officials will also be seeking money from the state. The $5.2 million is being made available through the U.S. Maritime Administration’s Port Infrastructure Development Program.

Port officials applied for the funding last summer.

Steps had already been taken to reduce emissions at the port. Ships at berth use electric power rather than burn diesel fuel. More than 15 battery-powered big-rigs transport cargo containers at the port.

Thirteen cargo cranes operate using hybrid engines, and cargo gates are open at night to keep trucks moving rather than idling as drivers deliver and pick up goods.

The port and its partners have reduced emissions by 86 percent compared with the level in 2005.

Keith Burbank, Bay City News

Keith Burbank is currently a fulltime reporter covering Alameda County and Oakland news for Bay City News. He has also worked on the Data Points project for Local News Matters, finding trends and stories about the region through data. In 2019, he was a California Fellow at the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism, producing a series about homeless deaths in Santa Clara County. He worked as a swing shift editor for the newswire for several years as well. Outside of journalism, Keith enjoys computer programming, math, economics and music.