California’s ports suspend shore power usage to conserve electricity amid heatwave

The mandatory use of shore power at Californian ports has been suspended amid governmental measures aimed at voluntary electricity conservation to mitigate the impact of the ongoing heat-wave.

Illustration; Image by Navingo

“State leadership has identified this temporary exemption to at-berth emissions control requirements because shutting off shore power is the single biggest means of reducing power in a way that does not inhibit cargo movement,” the Port of Long Beach said.

“The port, residents and businesses should all do their part to lower electricity use, particularly since more people are in their homes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The Port of Long Beach has invested more than $180 million to ensure all its six container terminals have shore power.

The Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach have exempted ships from the requirements mandating the use of shore power while in port and allowed the use of stationary and portable generators or auxiliary ship engines to reduce the strain on the energy infrastructure and increase energy capacity during the heatwave.

The ports insist the measures would not impact their sustainability efforts as they aim to further electrify their terminals.

To that end, last month California approved a new regulation designed to further reduce pollution from ocean-going vessels while docked at the state’s busiest ports.

The rule builds on the progress achieved by the At-Berth Regulation adopted in 2007, which has paved the way for an 80 percent reduction in harmful emissions from more than 13,000 vessel visits since 2014.

Vessels covered under the existing regulation include container ships, reefers and cruise ships. The updated regulation adds auto carriers and tankers, two categories that produce 56 percent of all fine particulate pollution (PM 2.5) from ocean-going vessels at berth in California ports. 

The proclamation from the Governor of California Gavin Newsom expires on September 8, however, ships that berthed at California ports between September 4-8 shall not be required to use shore power until September 11.