Greener power for cruise ships docking in SF

San Francisco launched California’s first shoreside electrical power supply for cruise ships docked at the waterfront, a move that will significantly cut back on pollution at one of the dirtiest parts of The City’s northern shore.

Cruise ships use up huge amounts of electricity to power their onboard systems, such as lighting, heating and air conditioners. While at sea and at the piers, ships run their own diesel generators, which create soot and other pollution.

“The amount of power that this ship uses while it’s here is equivalent to all of the power used at City Hall,” said Ed Harrington, general manager for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

Shoreside power results in zero air emissions while a ship is connected in port. New retrofitted cruise ships can shut down their generators and connect to The City’s electrical grid using hydroelectric power generated by the Hetch Hetchy water system.

This is the truest form of green energy, Mayor Gavin Newsom said as he gathered with port officials at Pier 27 to unveil the power supply.

“Doing right by the environment doesn’t come at the expense of jobs and economic growth,” Newsom said. “With shoreside power, we can welcome a growing number of cruise ships and the tourist dollars they bring to San Francisco while protecting the Bay and our local air quality.”

The Port calculated that the shoreside power supply will prevent 140 pounds of diesel soot emissions and 1.3 tons of airborne nitrogen oxide emissions for every 10-hour ship call. It will also reduce carbon dioxide by 19.7 tons.

This new system, developed by Princess Cruises in 2001, is not only the first in the state but just the fourth in the world, according to port officials.

Cruise ships will have a financial incentive to use the new technology when berthed in San Francisco, Harrington said. A 10-hour call typically would cost them $18,000 to run diesel power, while the shoreside power will only cost $16,000, city officials said.

“We wanted to make it beneficial to the ship to actually use clean power,” Harrington said. “It will be cheaper than PG&E, it will be cheaper than diesel and it’s a win for all of us to have cleaner air.”

esherbert@sfexaminer.com

 

Cruising for a profit

$111: Amount transit passengers typically spend per visit

$256: Amount overnight passengers typically spend per visit

$4.4 million: Amount spent by transit passengers in The City and region in 2006

$6.4 million: Amount spent by overnight passengers in The City and region in 2006

180,000: Passengers expected in 2011

120,000: Passengers in 2010

60: Expected cruise calls in 2011

41: Cruise calls in 2010

Source: Port of San Francisco

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