The Bay Area Air Quality Management District handed out nearly $9 million Wednesday to reduce roadway and coastal water pollution in hopes that the rest of the nation will follow suit, a district spokesman said.

The Port of Oakland was given $5 million to install shore power at three heavily frequented berths.

Another $3.9 million was allocated to four clean-energy technology companies to bolster the area's electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

"This is an opportunity for the Bay Area to lead the way for the rest of the country," air district spokesman Aaron Richardson said. "In the long run, it will significantly improve air quality and public health."

Shore power is produced by connecting a vessel to an electric grid while it is at berth, instead of the traditional practice of keeping its diesel generators on, district spokeswoman Jennifer Jones said. Jones said the installation of shore power would eliminate 33 tons of pollutants per year.

By 2014, the California Air Resources Board is requiring that more than half of the ships stopping at a port be charged using alternative methods, Jones said.

"The port is going above and beyond the emissions reduction requirements," Jones said. "We are committing that more than 50 percent of our visitors will turn off their engines."


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The three berths financed by the project -- the Hanjin Terminal and two Oakland International Container Terminals -- see more than 500 ships each year, making them the most heavily trafficked at the port.

As for the money given to ECOvitality, Coulomb Technology, AeroVironment and Clipper Creek, it will go to about 2,750 homes getting electric car chargers and approximately 30 fast chargers being set up in the Bay Area.

According to Richardson, a fast charger is able to restore 80 percent of a vehicle's battery life within 15 minutes.

"There would be two options," Richardson said. "We are looking at a monthly fee as well as a pay-at-the-pump type of charge."Richardson said that the charging stations would be spaced throughout major transportation corridors to allow for easy travel. He added that the Nissan Leaf is able to travel 100 miles before needing to be plugged in.

"That means that, just with a layover of 15 minutes, the car could travel 200 miles," Richardson said.

The at-home chargers will be capable of fully charging a car in 4.5 hours, he said, and each resident who opts for one to be installed in their house will receive a generous rebate.

"We're hoping that the money makes owning an electric vehicle a more attractive option," Richardson said.