Long Beach Port Operators Lead the Way to Zero Emissions Goal

Partnering with SCE and others, SSA Terminals is electrifying its equipment and helping the port meet an important decarbonization goal by 2030.
May 8, 2023 2:30 PM ET

Energized by Edison

By Ben Gallagher ENERGIZED by Edison Writer

The Port of Long Beach is one of the world’s busiest ports. Handling more than 9 million 20-foot containers and cargo valued at $200 billion each year, port operators move about 90 million metric tons of cargo through their terminals annually. One-third of the loaded containers moving through California ports and nearly one of every five in the U.S. pass through the Port of Long Beach every year. Terminal operators at the ports are making significant advances in transitioning to all-electric power.

SSA Terminals, which operate three berths out of a 201-acre site at the port, worked with Southern California Edison to retrofit its existing cranes to be entirely electric, converting nine 1,000-horsepower diesel engines to fully electrified versions. The cranes are used to transport imported containers, which are offloaded and stored at the terminal, to trucks that deliver them to logistical hubs or their ultimate destination. 

The benefits were almost immediate. 

“We were burning about 10 gallons of diesel per hour, so that’s our main cost savings right there,” said Scott Hainlen, superintendent for SSA Terminals. Beyond cost benefits were those that extended to their employees. “The operators definitely like driving these machines. They’re not sitting up there next to a smokestack anymore, and they are much quieter.”

Successfully integrating the new machines into their existing operations took some firsthand experience. The new cranes initially reacted more quickly than their diesel counterparts, so SSA’s crane operators made the necessary adjustments, and now they’re working seamlessly. Ultimately, Hainlen said that they’ve seen a net increase in both efficiency and operator comfort. 

Hainlen expects other port operators to make the change to zero-emission machines soon as well, as the port aims to meet that threshold by 2030. The knowledge and experience gained through this project will extend to those operators, and SCE will play a critical role in enabling their transitions. 

SSA also worked with SCE to electrify 33 terminal tractors, which are used to move containers around the terminal yard.

“The Port of Long Beach is an incredible economic driver not only for our region but for California and the entire nation,” said Michael Bushey, director of SCE’s Business Customer Division. “We take pride in our role in helping the state reach its goal of carbon neutrality by 2045, and working with the Port of Long Beach operators to reach zero emissions is a critical part of that process.” 

Each of those future projects will bring the port closer to its 2030 zero-emissions target, and achieving that goal will mark a significant milestone on the Pathway to 2045, SCE’s groundbreaking analysis of the steps California must take to clean the electric grid and reach carbon neutrality. 

To learn more about SCE's clean energy initiatives, visit edison.com/clean-energy.