Port of San Francisco Offers Shoreside Power to Cruise Ships

Published Jan 11, 2011 7:44 AM by The Maritime Executive

On Wednesday, the Port of San Francisco became the first port in California to provide shoreside electrical power for cruise ships at berth.

Mayor Gavin Newsom, along with Port officials, Princess Cruises, Bay Area Air Quality Management District, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-Region 9, and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission attended a ceremony to inaugurate shoreside power at Pier 27, allowing Island Princess to receive power from the City’s electrical grid.

This new technology allows ships to plug into the city’s electrical gird, eliminating the need for on-board diesel generators and the release of harmful noxious particles into the air.

Ships must be equipped with $1 million worth of new technology to receive the electrical supply; money well spent as the new power supply will save operators in the long run. Officials report that power supplied by diesel runs around $18,000 for a 10 hour call while the new shoreside power averages around $16,000 for the same amount of time.

The Port of San Francison spent $5.2 million on the system and Los Angeles, San Diego and Long Beach are working on similar systems.

The new shore power technology at the Port of San Francisco cruise ship terminal enables Princess Cruises' ships, and other equipped vessels, to use power from the city's grid instead of the engines to power the ship's onboard services--reducing emissions when docked in San Francisco.

The port becomes the fourth in the world where Princess Cruises' ships can take advantage of this innovative technology. The new shore power installation in San Francisco is a cooperative effort by the Port of San Francisco, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, the Environmental Protection Agency, Holland America Line and Princess Cruises.

"We know that local air quality is an important issue in the Bay Area, so we're pleased to join with the port to debut this important environmental initiative," said Dean Brown, Princess Cruises' executive vice president. "Our commitment to shore power technology began nearly 10 years ago, and we're very pleased we can now 'plug in' our ships in San Francisco."

Princess' shore power program made history when it debuted in Juneau, Alaska in 2001. It expanded to Seattle in 2005, and then to Vancouver in 2009. Shore power connections are planned to roll out in other ports that have made commitments to the technology, including Los Angeles and San Diego. Currently nine of the line's ships are outfitted with the capability to "plug in" to a shoreside power source, representing an investment for Princess of nearly $7 million in equipment alone.

To create this unique power system, also known as "cold ironing," Princess has outfitted its ships with custom-built connection cabinets that join the ship's electrical network to the local electric system ashore. The electric power is transmitted from a landside transformer to the vessel via four 31⁄2-inch diameter flexible cables. The actual cable connection on a vessel is a traditional, though quite large, plug and socket. The length of time needed to connect a ship to shore power and shut down the vessel's diesel generators is approximately 40 minutes. Once connected, the ship's engines are powered down and, simultaneously, the necessary amount of power is delivered to run the ship's services while in port.

The Port of San Francisco spent $5.2 million on the system and Los Angeles, San Diego and Long Beach are working on similar systems.

Media Releases: The Port of San Francisco, Princess Cruise Lines