CARB Launches Zero-Emission Freight Equipment Project

Bill Van Amburg, executive vice president of CALSTART, speaks at the event. (CALSTART)

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The California Air Resources Board started an initiative to promote zero-emission freight equipment at transportation hubs, such as ports, distribution centers, airports and rail yards.

CARB launched the Clean Off-Road Equipment Voucher Incentive Project (CORE) at the Port of San Diego on Jan. 31.

The $44 million project aims to encourage freight equipment users to purchase or lease zero-emission off-road equipment models.

“The launch of CORE represents an instrumental cost reduction program for zero-emission off-road freight technologies in our communities most burdened by air pollution,” said San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, also a member of CARB.

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CORE’s online catalog of eligible off-road equipment became available on Feb. 3. The vouchers are meant to offset the higher cost of zero-emission systems with discounts of up to $500,000. Additional funding is available for infrastructure related to chargers and hydrogen fueling.

Equipment eligible for CORE participation includes on- and off-road terminal tractors, transport refrigeration units, railcar movers, gantry cranes and forklifts.

“For buyers, using CORE’s incentives means that equipment with no pollution will cost about the same as the polluting alternatives,” said Bill Van Amburg, executive vice president of CALSTART, a nonprofit group that works with its member companies and agencies to build a high-tech clean-transportation industry. It is administering the CORE project. “By helping users to buy clean equipment sooner, we will boost earlier demand to increase volumes and reduce costs, as well as spur investment and innovation by manufacturers and keep California’s clean economy growing.”

CORE is part of California Climate Investments, a statewide cap-and-trade program.


The ITW Ground Power Unit (left) replaces diesel units used to power planes on the ground, the Zephir Railcar Mover (right) replaces diesel switchers and movers in railyards and the AEM Transport Refrigeration Unit (back) replaces diesel refrigeration trailers. (CALSTART)

Cap-and-trade programs are designed to reduce emissions. The cap places a limit on how much greenhouse gas can be released. Companies can then buy or sell allowances on how much they can emit.

Fossil fuel-powered off-road equipment emits more than 5 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent every year, which is about the same amount of emissions created by 1 million passenger vehicles driven for a full year.


“The Port of San Diego works closely with our working waterfront to help make their operations sustainable through cutting-edge technology like zero-emission off-road freight equipment,” said Ann Moore, chair of the Board of Port Commissioners, which governs the Port of San Diego.

The Port of San Diego specializes in break bulk, dry bulk and refrigerated cargo, processing goods ranging from turbines and brewery equipment to cement and sand. The area surrounding the Port of San Diego is one of the communities that will be included in an air quality monitoring exercise through CARB’s Community Air Protection Program.

“[The CORE] project will reduce air pollution from goods movement equipment and benefit our residents, especially those who live and work near San Diego’s ports,” said Robert Kard, air pollution control officer for the San Diego County Air Pollution Control District.

CORE is based on CARB’s Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project, which offers vouchers on medium- and heavy-duty trucks and buses..

CALSTART offers similar voucher incentive programs in New York and Illinois.

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