Thursday, October 28, 2010

TOTE and Tacoma Port Kick Off Ship-to-Shore Power System

The race to be the first ocean carrier in the Pacific Northwest to plug a cargo ship into shore power was won Wednesday when a docked Totem Ocean Trailer Express, Inc. vessel switched over to landside power at the Port of Tacoma.

The ceremony kicking off the ship-to-shore power service at the TOTE facility was attended by federal, state and local officials, including representatives from Gov. Chris Gregoire's office and officials from the US EPA. The $2.7 million ship-to-shore power system was funded by a $1.5 million federal EPA grant and a nearly $1.2 million investment from TOTE. Port of Tacoma staff provided environmental permitting, grant administration and project management.

Ship-to-shore systems allow vessels to plug into the landside power grid while docked and turn off on-board emission-generating auxiliary diesel engines that typically provide at-berth maintenance power. These auxiliary engines produce the majority of emissions generated by a vessel during a normal port call.

“By plugging in, TOTE and the Port of Tacoma are using clean Northwest energy instead of fossil fuels,” said Dennis McLerran, EPA Region 10 Administrator. “This project has three major benefits: It reduces greenhouse gas emissions, creates healthier air and spurs job growth.”

TOTE's two state-of-art Orca-class vessels, which call weekly at Tacoma, are both outfitted to utilize the system. The ship-to-shore system is expected to reduce diesel and greenhouse emissions from TOTE's roughly 100 ship calls per year at Tacoma by 90 percent.

“Not only does this shore power plug installation help us clean the air, this project has created dozens of living-wage jobs at a time when we need them the most,” Gov. Chris Gregoire said in a statement. “This is the kind of investment we need to emerge from this recession ready for the 21st century economy – one with a healthy environment and a good supply of clean energy jobs.”

The Tacoma ship-to-shore project supports the Northwest Ports Clean Air Strategy, adopted in early 2008 by the Tacoma, Seattle and Vancouver, BC ports to meet jointly established short- and long-term clean air goals for ships, cargo-handling equipment, rail, trucks and harbor craft. Approximately half of the ships that call frequently at Tacoma already meet the 2010 clean-air goal for ships by using cleaner-burning distillate fuel at berth. TOTE ships, which call twice a week in Tacoma, will boost that number to 64 percent by plugging into the shore power system.

“Almost 35 years to the day since TOTE first introduced service from Puget Sound to Alaska, we are delighted today to again provide leadership in helping to establish this new benchmark for environmentally responsible cargo movement.” said TOTE President John Parrott. “Shore power is simply the next step in TOTE’s ongoing commitment to innovations which benefit our customers … and the communities in which we live.”

Ship-to-shore systems for cargo vessels have been in place in Southern California for several years and several West Coast ports already offer such facilities for cruise vessels.