Most, if not all, of the container lines that call at California’s ports are prepared to meet the state’s revolutionary requirement to operate 50 percent of their vessels from shore-side electrical power while at berth beginning Jan. 1, 2014, the vice president of the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association said Monday.
“I field more calls on this than any other issue, but, yes, we are substantially ready,” T.L. Garrett told a Port of Long Beach shore power summit. PMSA represents shipping lines and terminal operators on the West Coast in dealing with legislative and regulatory issues.
The ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach and Oakland on Jan. 1 will be the only major ports in the world where container ship operators must power their vessels from shore-side electrical power at berth.
The California Air Resources Board regulations also apply to cruise vessels and refrigerated ships, so the ports of San Diego, Hueneme and San Francisco are also affected by the rules.
CARB requires that container lines that call regularly at the ports must operate at least 50 percent of their vessels from shore power, and must decrease vessel emissions by 50 percent. The requirements will increase to 70 percent in 2017 and 80 percent in 2020.
Shipping lines and terminal operators in Southern California began working on shore power in advance of the CARB rules. The Los Angeles-Long Beach Clean Air Action Plan in 2006 called for introduction of electrical power, also known as cold ironing, to reduce vessel emissions at berth.
Renee Moilanen, environmental specialist associate at the Port of Long Beach, said the ports’ joint clean air effort has reduced diesel emissions from all sources by 75 percent from the 2005 baseline number. That includes a 90 percent reduction in truck emissions from the ports’ clean-truck programs.
As a result of dramatic progress in reducing emissions from trucks, locomotives, harbor craft and cargo-handling equipment, vessels in transit and at berth are now the major source of port pollution. Furthermore, shore power is critical to meeting even greater emissions reductions beginning in 2023. “It’s the best strategy we have now,” she said.
Long Beach has spent about $100 million on infrastructure required to deliver the huge requirements for electrical power in the harbor, and Los Angeles has invested a similar amount. The 13 container terminals in the port complex are also spending tens of millions of dollars to make their facilities ready for ships operating from shore-side power.
Container lines that call regularly in Southern California are likewise investing heavily to become shore-power ready. Existing container vessels must be retrofitted, and carriers are building many of their new ships with the capacity to handle shore power.
Some ports in Asia and Europe are considering similar requirements and have sent representatives to view Southern California shore-power developments, said Chris Lytle, executive director of the Port of Long Beach.
Matson Navigation Co. retrofitted eight vessels to operate from shore power, at an average cost of $1.7 million per vessel, said Lee Lampland, manager of new construction. Those costs are not recoverable by the carrier in an economic sense, but they are important in terms of environmental benefits to the community, he said.
Moilanen noted that nitrogen oxide emissions from each vessel call by a ship that operates from shore power are 1 ton less than from ships operating their auxiliary engines with diesel fuel. That’s the equivalent of removing 33,000 vehicles from the road, she said.
Terminal operators and liner companies by July 1 must submit to the California Air Resources Board details of their compliance strategies, and must be ready to comply with the regulations by Jan. 1.
Cynthia Marvin, chief of CARB’s stationary source division, said the regulatory agency will have penalties for non-compliance, but CARB is more interested in helping terminals and carriers to complete their testing and compliance programs than in assessing fines. “We want this to work,” she said.
If companies that are making an honest effort to comply experience unforeseen problems in the start-up phase, CARB will be flexible. “We are generally reasonable people,” she said.