The Port of San Diego's two marine cargo terminals — the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal and the National City Marine Terminal — serve as economic catalysts for the region.
The terminals process a variety of goods, including automobiles, lumber, bananas, sand, cement, fertilizer, steel, yachts and windmill parts.
With more wind towers and other alternative energy components arriving at the terminal, the Port of San Diego is emerging as a hub for energy equipment arriving from Europe, Asia and South America.
A typical operation occurred in March when a cargo ship arrived from the Port of New Mangalore in India, with wind towers destined for California's Tehachapi Mountains. Several wind farms operate within the mountain range, where enough electricity is generated to power the homes of hundreds of thousands of people each year.
Manufacturers of wind components prefer the Port of San Diego, because of its highly skilled dock workers and proven ability to handle the massive wind energy parts.
They also praise the port's Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal for its ease of truck access and available storage space.
"Because of our location and terminal accommodations, San Diego has become the preferred port for many wind energy manufacturers,” said Joel Valenzuela, director of the Port of San Diego Maritime Operations. “We have an established inland transportation system, a flexible open storage area and expertise in handling these special products.”
Imports include blades from Brazil, towers from Vietnam and China, and other components from Germany and Spain.
In fiscal year 2011-2012, nearly 500 alternative energy components were processed at the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal.
The port is exporting U.S.-manufactured energy components, as well. Recently, ships carrying towers and other equipment departed San Diego for the Port of San Lorenzo in Honduras, and the Port of Corinto in Nicaragua.
Wind farms are one of the fastest growing sources of energy, because they provide a clean source of electricity. Because of their popularity, the port is expecting an increase in imports and exports of wind towers, blades and engines.
However, the port is not simply waiting for new customers. It is aggressively pursuing new business through trade missions to South America, Europe, Asia and at home in the United States.
"We look forward to importing more wind turbine components from various locations, including Europe, India and South Korea," Valenzuela said. “We also are anticipating more exports."
The Port of San Diego is California's largest break-bulk or general cargo port. It handles imports and export commodities that do not easily fit into shipping containers — items such as vehicles, yachts, heavy machinery and electrical transformers.
In fiscal year 2005, the port’s terminal activity alone generated $1.6 billion for the San Diego region’s economy.
In addition to the two marine cargo terminals and two cruise ship terminals, the port also maintains 17 dedicated parks for the public’s enjoyment, and it oversees the 130-member Harbor Police Department that serves and protects the citizens and visitors to San Diego Bay. The port is the landlord for more than 600 tenant and sub-tenants around San Diego Bay, including marinas, hotels, restaurants and shipyards. It also serves as an environmental steward of the bay.