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Ports Authority wins EPA clean air award
port containers
The Georgia Ports Authority is converting its container-handling, rubber-tired gantry cranes to electric power. By using diesel power only to move between container stacks, eRTGs cut diesel use by 95 percent. - photo by Photo by Stephen B. Morton/GPA

SAVANNAH — The Georgia Ports Authority has received a 2016 Clean Air Excellence Award from the Environmental Protection Agency for its electric rubber-tired gantry crane program, which will transfer its container handling equipment from diesel to electric power.

GPA began to implement the program in 2012. By the end of next month, 45 cranes will have been transitioned from diesel to electric power or purchased with electric power capability, bringing GPA’s eRTG fleet to 30 percent of the total.

This is the first eRTG installation of its kind at a port in North America.

"The eRTG project is unique and innovative, a model others can follow with GPA’s partners to effectively work together for a common goal to reduce energy usage and diesel emissions," incoming GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch said.

At an awards ceremony in Washington last week, Hope Moorer, the authority’s general manager of waterways and navigation programs, was on hand to receive the award.

"It is an honor to be recognized in this way by the EPA," Moorer said. "The award highlights the Georgia Ports Authority’s commitment to operating its terminals in an environmentally responsible manner."

GPA has invested more than $17.5 million to bring the 45 electric RTGs online. Over the next 10 years, the entire fleet of 169 machines will have electric power capability. The eRTGs use 95 percent less diesel fuel than conventional RTGs, with corresponding reduced diesel emissions for improved air quality.

The authority was one of seven groups or individuals recognized by the EPA for innovative work on clean air and climate projects. The 2016 Clean Air Excellence Awards are given to state, local, tribal and private-sector programs that educate the public in improving air quality or reducing harmful air pollutants or greenhouse gas emissions.

Lynch credited outgoing GPA Executive Director Curtis Foltz for his leadership in making the eRTG program a reality.

"Until this program, there had been no successful alternative allowing the transition of existing diesel-based yard equipment to electric power," Foltz said. "In this case, we needed to think outside of the box, and put together a team that could achieve that goal."

Project partners include Konecranes Inc., Georgia Power, the Electric Power Research Institute and Conductix-Wampfler.

At completion, electric RTGs will cut diesel consumption by more than 3 million gallons per year, for a net savings of more than $9 million, a GPA news release says. The annual reduction in carbon dioxide will be almost 70 tons by 2026.

GPA officials said the business case for the eRTG project is reinforced when combined with lower maintenance costs, bringing a total expected savings to more than $11 million per year.

The Clean Air Excellence awards program was established in 2000, and recognizes individuals who pioneer in their fields, advance public understanding of air pollution and improve air quality. Entries are judged by the EPA and the Clean Air Advisory Committee.

"Each of these award winners has taken real, tangible steps to improve public health in their communities by reducing air pollutants or greenhouse gases," said Janet McCabe, acting assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. "These projects reflect the creativity and commitment of public and private sector organizations to make a difference and drive us toward a cleaner, healthier future."

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