California shore power mandate suspended amid heat wave

 Governor of California Gavin Newsom has issued an executive order which exempts vessels calling at Californian ports from using shore power to conserve energy and mitigate the impact of the ongoing heat wave.

Illustration; Image by Offshore Energy

Newsom proclaimed a state of emergency on August 31 through to September 7 amid record temperatures across the state which have been 10-20 degrees above normal, putting a significant strain on California’s energy grid.

Temperatures above 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) and a prolonged drought that has slashed California’s hydropower production have further exacerbated the state’s electricity generation capacity.

Greater demand for energy combined with power outages at certain plants as well as loss of supply due to power plant shutdowns caused by fires has prompted efforts to conserve electricity where possible to avoid additional disruptions.

The California Independent System Operator, which runs the grid, has issued a warning saying that multiple generators have been forced out of service because of the extreme heat, asking residents to conserve energy to avoid possible power outages.

Since advanced lead time is required for ports and operators of ocean-going vessels to maximize power conservation, the executive order has instructed that:

“Ocean-going vessels that are berthed at California ports between Saturday, September 3, 2022, at 12:01 a.m., and Wednesday, September 7, 2022, at 11 :59 p.m., inclusive, shall not be required to use shore power until after 11 :59 pm on Saturday, September 10, 2022.”

The exemptions from the order are reminiscent of August 2020 when California experienced a heat wave and subsequent rotating outages.

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The 2007 At-Berth Regulation affects container ships, passenger ships, and refrigerated-cargo ships at six California ports: Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland, San Diego, San Francisco, and Hueneme. The regulations requires CO2 emissions to be reduced by 50% starting in 2014, 70% starting in 2017, and 80% starting in 2020. 

California has approved a new regulation designed to further reduce pollution from ocean-going vessels while docked at the state’s busiest ports.

The updated rule adds new vessel categories which will be required to control pollution when they run auxiliary engines or auxiliary boilers while docked, namely auto carriers and tankers.

The existing regulation stays in force through 2022; the updated regulation starts in 2023 when container, reefer and cruise vessels – already included under the existing rule – will transition to the new regulation.

Auto carriers will need to comply starting in 2025. Tankers docking at the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach must also comply starting in 2025, while tankers in Northern California have until 2027.