Port Commissions Approve New Truck Fees

12:16 pm |

Published: 03/10/2020

CNG is the Fuel for the Port of Los Angeles

“Leaders at the Long Beach and Los Angeles ports on Monday approved a new entrance fee of $10 per 20-foot equivalent unit for trucks that fail to comply with low emissions standards yet to be set by the state.”  – Long Beach Post News 3/9/2020

Port commissions approve new truck fees on ghostly emissions standards.  The port emissions standards have been in limbo for quite sometime and those that do business there have been waiting to exhale, after holding their breath for too long.

Will it be Zero or Near Zero?

With a viable solution for electric class 8 trucks still unknown, it would seem the answer is simple.  Move to low Nox standards and let CNG help clean the air in the port of Los Angeles and Long Beach.  The technology is solid with offerings from Freightliner/Cummins partnered with Agility Fuel Systems.  The fueling station infrastructure exists, to a large degree in the greater Los Angeles area.

While there are a handful of players in the electric space claiming to have trucks “almost ready for the market”, none have the dealer support infrastructure to get there.  Even if these producers can cobble together parts for an electric truck, it won’t be for a few years when a truly viable solution will hit the market.  What is viable?  In order to have a truck that can serve the large port business, there needs to be a support network for the vehicle in the event of issues or failures.  Freightliner, one of the leaders on a larger scale supplier/support network will have the ECascadia available in a couple of years.  But what do drayage companies do until that time with no interim ruling on port emissions?

Pick a Direction

It would seem that the direction of zero emissions for the Port of Los Angeles and Long Beach could be reached much easier if the emissions standards were graduated.  Right now, with no direction on emissions standards none of the companies operating in and out of the port want to make a move and do something other than diesel trucks.  If the rules were adopted that low Nox were to be the approved direction with a reasonable stair step to zero emissions, more companies might make the switch.  This would give the transport companies the incentive to move forward into CNG trucks to be used until ROI was reached and the trucks were ready for next life/replacement.  Then the stair step to zero emissions/electric trucks would make sense with the market having trucks available and the infrastructure being there as well.

You can’t simply go out and buy 50 electric trucks and plug them into a wall socket.  The power grid and accessibility of needed power needs to be at the street for every business that wants to power up with electric.  If we are having issues of brown-outs now during hot summer days, what happens when 10,000 electric trucks are pulling power off of the grid to power batteries and move freight?  There needs to be a thoughtful period of transition and that doesn’t seem to be in place.  Something about prior proper planning comes to mind.

How do all Parties Come Together?

Reasonable people need to come to the table with the long term goal and steps to get there.  Right now, all that is being offered is the goal with no clear path other than more financial pain.  That financial pain that will ultimately fall on the smallest of business owners, the owner operator.

  • Plan the phase out of diesel
  • Plan the phase in of CNG
  • Put the grants in place for conversion
  • Put a team together to put the ROI time table together to run those CNG trucks and cover costs reasonably
  • Get with the real manufacturers of viable electric trucks and get a timeline to market –  add a year
  • Get with the power suppliers and find out when they will have a solution for the pending electric truck boom –  add three years
  • Plan to phase in the zero emissions/electric trucks with your now roughly created formula

It seems simplistic, I know.  But, having some direction is better than having no direction at all.  Just penalizing the people trying to feed their families by driving trucks so you and I have goods delivered to our doorsteps seems to be a short-sighted solution.

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