San Diego Airport: Gateway to Sustainability

Ground Support Equipment at San Diego International Airport

Each year, more than 20 million people pass through the San Diego International Airport on their way to destinations worldwide. Most of these travelers probably give little thought to the ground support equipment (GSE) that makes this mass movement of people and goods possible.

GSE performs a wide range of functions that allow airport operations to run smoothly and safely—from pushing airplanes back from the gate to moving luggage into the cargo holds of planes to lifting passengers in wheelchairs.

Today, a majority of the airport’s GSE is diesel-fueled, but a plan has been developed to switch the equipment to a clean fuel source. SDG&E is part of the solution.

Regional Cooperation for Collective Benefits

We partnered with the San Diego International Airport to develop a plan to electrify its GSE, helping the airport reduce carbon emissions and meet its sustainability goals.

If the plan is approved by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), SDG&E will invest in charging infrastructure at the airport’s facilities to enable more widespread electrification of GSE.

Brendan Reed, director of planning and environmental affairs at the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, said there are two areas of airport operations – airside and landside – that are targeted for electrification.

On the airside, the airport would like to expand the number of charging ports in Terminal 2 so airlines have more opportunity to use electric GSE and take advantage of onsite solar generation.

On the landside, the airport would like to install electric vehicle (EV) chargers at its taxi lot and establish incentives to encourage taxi, shuttle and rideshare services to upgrade to zero-emissions vehicles for their fleet.

Reed said the beauty of partnering with SDG&E is that we already source 43 percent of the region’s energy supplies from renewables like wind and solar, so when airlines plug in their GSE, they are using energy from one of the cleanest grids in America.

“We are really benefiting from SDG&E’s high percentage of renewables,” he said.

Big Plans for a Cleaner Future

Electrifying GSE could help the airport remove more than 25,000 metric TONS of greenhouse gas emissions from reaching our air—equivalent to the carbon removed by more than 651,000 trees growing for 10 years!

“The airport is very committed to sustainability and is putting a lot of focus on converting different airside and landside transportation to electric,” Reed said.

This article is part of a series taking a closer look at seven projects proposed by SDG&E to increase access to electric vehicle charging infrastructure as we work to clean the air for a healthier tomorrow. Learn more about our plans to electrify transportation and clean our air, here.