Long Beach approves 'cold-ironing' survey

Long Beach approves 'cold-ironing' survey

The Long Beach Harbor Commission on Monday approved further study of how to electrically power certain ships while docked to cut emissions from their diesel engines.

The vote clears the port staff to survey all the ``candidate'' vessels that come into the Port of Long Beach to find out how many calls a year they make, how long they spend at berth and how much power they need while there.

A candidate vessel is one that would use a significant amount of power annually, such as a cruise ship or refrigerated vessel, ships that call often and have heavy power demands while docked.

The decision Monday follows a yearlong port study, released in April, on a cross-section of ships that call at Long Beach here to determine which would be best suited for cold-ironing, the term for powering ships electrically at dock.

Environmental watchdogs say cold-ironing would significantly reduce emissions from ships at berth, particularly in Southern California, which has some of the worst air quality in the country.

The commission's vote also instructs staff to estimate potential emission reductions from electrically powering ships; discuss the possibility of building a power plant at the port, and negotiate with Southern California Edison for lower electricity rates for cold-ironing.

While unanimously approving the further studies, some on the commission were quick to say that they didn't want to see cold-ironing become a requirement, but rather an option.

Commissioner John Calhoun said a requirement would be a restriction on international trade, which is the federal government's territory, the Long Beach Press-Telegram reported.

"It's up to people higher than us to make the decision that this be a requirement,'' he said.

But port planning director Robert Kanter said that the port may, in the future, be compelled to undertake programs that reduce air pollution.

"We're not trying to regulate, but when you have impacts that exceed allowable thresholds, you need to come up with measures that reduce those impacts.''

A lawsuit by environmental groups last year delayed the opening of a China Shipping Container Line terminal at the Port of Los Angeles. In a settlement, the port and the carrier agreed to equip ships and berths for dockside electrical power.