First electric crane on West Coast takes carbon emissions goals to new heights

A Bay Area construction company debuted the first electric crane on the West Coast on Thursday as the company elevates its efforts to go green.

Bigge Crane and Rigging Company demoed the Liebherr crawler crane at its yard in San Leandro for customers Thursday afternoon. The manufacturer says the heavy equipment can lift 275 tons and run up to eight hours on battery power.

"It’s really special," said Garrett St. John with Bigge Crane and Rigging. "It’s an exciting new innovation in the heavy lifting space."

The price tag for the electric crane is about $3 million as opposed to $2.3 for its diesel counterpart, according to Liebherr representatives.

Currently, there are four electric cranes operating in the United States, with two in Florida and a third in Texas. This is the first crane in California.

"It’s pretty cool," said Liam Byerly, who has operated cranes for decades. "I had to keep an open mind because I’ve never even been around an electric machine. It was a learning curve."

One of the most noticeable changes is how much quieter the crane is, with a maximum sound equivalent to a kitchen blender.

Manufacturers estimate the fuel savings are roughly 18,500 gallons a year, which prevents nearly 200 tons of carbon from being released into the air.

In the belly of the giant beast, the diesel engine and fuel tank were replaced by a powerful electric motor and stacks of batteries.

"It runs plugged in, so you can plug into shore power like a tower crane, or you can plug it into one of our battery packs," said Bigge Crane’s Brian Cannady. "You don’t have to bring in a diesel generator."

Those fuel-powered generators are a major contributor to greenhouse gases and pollution. Studies show roughly 40% of carbon emissions worldwide are caused by the building and construction sector.

But now there’s a clean alternative.


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Moxion Power has developed mobile battery units capable of running everything form power tools to the giant crawler crane. The crane is capable of getting fully recharged in two and a half hours.

"Being able to take temporary diesel engines out of the construction ecosystem can cause a huge change," said Laurence Lea with Moxion Power. "The work does not change and the work output doesn’t change just because you go electric."

Bigge Crane and Rigging said it is going green and moving toward a more sustainable future. 

The company has already transitioned its yard trucks from diesel to electric and is investing in an electric highway truck fleet to transport its heavy machinery including the electric crane.

"We’re really trying to have it be an end to end solution," said St. John. "Not just a one-off thing with one crane here on the yard."

With more than 100 years in the Bay Area, the company is innovating by investing in solar panels at its San Leandro yard that will soon power 80% of its operation. There are also hopes it may one day charge up the new crane that’s set to build things up across the state.

"This is a California crane," said St. John. "We think it fits best here."

Brooks Jarosz is a reporter for KTVU. Email him at and follow him on Facebook and X @BrooksKTVU