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News Releases

News Releases from Region 10

EPA and Tacoma Power grants help Northwest Seaport Alliance to install first permanent fleet of electric cargo-handling equipment

Contact Information: 
Suzanne Skadowski - EPA Region 10 ( )
Akiko Oda - Port of Tacoma ( )

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded a $782,482 Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) grant to the Northwest Seaport Alliance. The DERA grant will support Rail Management Services (RMS), who operates at the South Intermodal Yard in Tacoma, to replace six existing diesel-powered terminal tractors with battery-electric versions.

“This grant will help secure our ability to install the first permanent deployment of electric cargo-handling equipment in our gateway,” said John McCarthy, Port of Tacoma commission president and co-chair of The Northwest Seaport Alliance. “Through our partnership with RMS and Tacoma Power, these upgrades will replace nearly 23,000 gallons of diesel fuel with clean electricity annually, resulting in reductions of diesel particulate matter (DPM) emissions of 1.4 tons per year and 260 tons of greenhouse gas.”

Using the DERA grant funds passed on by the NWSA, RMS will remanufacture their terminal tractors into battery-electric vehicles. RMS currently operates a fleet of six vehicles with a mix of Tier 2 and Tier 3 non-road diesel engines.

“As an intermodal provider operating more than 50 terminals and performing over 9,000,000 lifts a year, Rail Management Services consistently refines its operations to find the most innovative and cost-effective assets available,” said Ed Morgenthaler, vice president of Rail Management Services. “With our decades long standing relationship at the Port of Tacoma and with NWSA, RMS is proud to be included in this electric hostler venture which will reduce emissions and create a safer, cleaner environment for our employees.”

At their Nov. 3 meeting, the NWSA Managing Members also accepted $132,000 in incentive funds from Tacoma Power’s Cargo and Material Handling Equipment Electrification grant program to support the installation of charging infrastructure to support the battery electric yard tractors.

“Tacoma Power is proud to collaborate with the NWSA Managing Members to replace fossil fuel use at the Port of Tacoma with our renewable hydropower,” said Chris Robinson, general manager for Tacoma Power. “Partnerships like this will bring Tacoma closer to its clean energy future, and we look forward to more projects like this in 2021 and beyond.”

“We are pleased to receive the funding from the Environmental Protection Agency and Tacoma Power. In addition to helping meet our customers’ need for more efficient cargo-handling equipment, we recognized a transformational opportunity for us to take strides toward a cleaner future,” said Commissioner Peter Steinbrueck, Port of Seattle commission president and co-chair of The Northwest Seaport Alliance.

The new electric tractors are expected to go into operation late 2021.

“Few EPA funding programs get better results and more people protected than DERA,” said Chris Hladick, EPA Regional Administrator in Seattle. “By helping Northwest port operators retire older, dirtier engines by supporting their diesel terminal tractor replacement project, they can buy retrofitted electric tractors that are more efficient, pollute less and save money. By investing in cleaner air in congested, urban areas, we can help those who suffer more than their fair share of air pollution get welcome relief and a healthier community.”

Over the past three years, EPA will have awarded about $300 million in grants and rebates nationally to modernize the diesel fleet, speeding the evolution to cleaner, on and off-road heavy-duty trucks and equipment. Much of this assistance has been provided to help better protect areas of poor air quality and areas of highly concentrated diesel pollution, such as ports and distribution centers. DERA funded projects typically include retrofitting or replacing legacy school buses, transit buses, heavy-duty diesel trucks, marine engines, locomotives, and other heavy-duty equipment with new, cleaner technologies.

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About Rail Management Services

RMS provides a variety of intermodal terminal services to its major railroad customers at over 50 locations in the continental United States. With over three decades of experience focused on facilitating the railroad motor carrier interface, RMS has been the lowest cost and most efficient provider in the industry.

About Tacoma Power

Tacoma Power is a division of Tacoma Public Utilities. Publicly owned since 1893, we provide electric service to nearly 179,000 customers in Tacoma, University Place, Fircrest and portions of Fife, Lakewood, Federal Way, Steilacoom, Joint Base Lewis-McChord and unincorporated Pierce County, as far south as Roy.

About the Northwest Seaport Alliance

The Northwest Seaport Alliance is a marine cargo operating partnership of the ports of Tacoma and Seattle. Combined, the ports of Seattle and Tacoma are the third-largest container gateway in North America. Regional marine cargo facilities also are a major center for bulk, breakbulk, project/heavy-lift cargoes, automobiles and trucks.

About the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

EPA’s mission is to protect public health and the environment. EPA works closely with states, tribes, local partners, businesses and industry to ensure that Americans have clean air, land and water. EPA Region 10 covers the Pacific Northwest and Alaska – an expansive corner of the U.S. and home to 271 federally recognized tribes with whom we have a special government-to-government trust relationship.