California drops shore power requirement for berthing vessels

Port of Los Angeles, California, USA - April 27, 2022: image of container ship NYK Joanna shown arriving on a sunny day with blue sky.

The Governor of California has removed the requirement for berthing vessels to connect to shore power at the state’s ports.

Gov. Gavin Newsom made the announcement on 2 September, stating that vessels berthed between 3 September and 7 September will not be required to use shore power connectivity until 11 September.

The announcement comes as the state is being rocked by an ongoing heatwave where temperatures are expected to reach 46 degrees Celsius in some areas this week.

Updated projections by the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) show energy demands over the weekend were expected to exceed 47,000 megawatts, the highest since the summer of 2017.

READ: What is onshore power?

Current rules under the California Air Resources Board (CARB) require container, reefer, and cruise vessels at the Ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach, and Oakland to either use shore power (for example to plug in to the local electrical grid) or a CARB-approved control technology to reduce harmful emissions.

These include diesel particulate matter, fine particulate matter (PM2.5) oxides of nitrogen (NOx, a precursor to smog), reactive organic gases (ROG, another precursor to smog), greenhouse gases, and oxides of sulfur (SOx).

One example of an alternative to shore power is what is known as capture-and-control technology that employs a “bonnet” to cover a ship’s exhaust stacks, both containing and treating harmful emissions.

Gov. Newsom dropped the requirement in August last year following similar energy concerns across the state.

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