Tuesday, June 17, 2014

LB Port Approves Shore Power, Rail Usage Discounts

By Mark Edward Nero

The Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners has given preliminary approval to two incentives expected to bring additional cargo to the port while also encouraging the use of air pollution-reducing shore power and on-dock rail.

In one incentive, the port will waive “dockage” charges – essentially giving free parking – for cargo ships that both slow down near the port and plug into shore power or use another approved pollution-cutting technology at berth.

The Vessel Dockage Waiver Program requires the vessel operator to slow down within 40 nautical miles of the port and then to use shore power at berth or a certified alternative. The port says that by waiving the dockage fees in such cases, it forgoes an estimated $3.3 million to $4.9 million a year. The incentive builds upon a port program in which most ships reduce speeds near port, and a state program where at least half of all ships must use shore power or an equivalent at berth.

Also given preliminary approval was a $5-per-container unit incentive that shipping lines can earn for each new loaded container they bring through Long Beach. The requirement is that each container must travel inland by “on-dock rail,” which helps to eliminate truck trips on local roadways by rail-hauling the containers from the wharf.

The Incremental On-Dock Intermodal Incentive Program would pay $5 per loaded 20-foot-equivalent container unit for new cargo above the 2013 baseline level that’s also rail-hauled either out of, or into, the POLB. According to the port, if vessels bring an additional 20 percent more cargo over two years, it would generate an additional $22 million in revenue.

The port says the incentives are designed to help the port compete with other West Coast ports that have already cut fees to grow their business. By encouraging the use of shore power or another approved system for cutting at-berth ship emissions, and by bringing more cargo via on-dock rail, the Long Beach programs seek to increase trade while also reducing air pollution.
The Board of Harbor Commissioners, which gave preliminary approval of the measures during its June 9 meeting, is scheduled to consider the incentives for final approval during its June 23 assembly.