Charleston mulls shore power resolution

By Ashley Barker
Published Feb. 26, 2014

After a presentation by S.C. State Ports Authority CEO Jim Newsome, Charleston City Council voted Tuesday night to approve a resolution regarding shore power.

Council member William Dudley Gregorie originally proposed a resolution that would encourage the S.C. General Assembly to enact legislation for the installation of shore side power capabilities for the planned cruise terminal in Charleston. Shore power enables a ship to plug into a permanent power supply while docked, allowing the ship to turn off its auxiliary engines and stop the burning of diesel fuel while in port.

Read more about the shore power debate:

Mayor Joe Riley, however, encouraged the council to be careful about endorsing something with unknown costs. Riley proposed rewriting the resolution to say the council endorses steps that have been and will be taken by the S.C. State Ports Authority to maintain and improve the air quality at Union Pier terminal.

Riley’s revised resolution, which was approved by a 10-2 vote, also says council supports the efforts by the General Assembly to ensure that “funding is available for the installation of shore power at the new passenger terminal as and when needed.”

Council members Rodney Williams and Dean Riegel voted no. They both commented prior to the vote that Newsome’s presentation convinced them that a resolution was not needed.

Riegel called the ports authority a “terrific partner,” and Williams said it is a “responsible neighbor” that is doing what it’s supposed to be doing for the health of citizens.

Newsome said all the data he’s seen shows air quality is consistently improving in the Lowcountry, and the continuous air monitor at the Wando terminal has never exceeded the health standard for any pollutant due to port activity. He added that the new terminal will be equipped to handle a shore power connection should it be appropriate once it is built.

Newsome also told council members that American ports with shore power have experienced significant technical challenges and required public subsidy. He emphasized that the authority has spent $16 million to date on emissions reductions and “remains committed to uniform common-sense strategies.”

The authority will also be working to install an investigatory air monitor at Union Pier terminal with the help of the state S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, according to Newsome.

Newsome also announced at the ports authority meeting last week that the Carnival Fantasy cruise ship will be retrofitted with pollution-reducing scrubbers beginning October 2015 in an effort to reduce harmful emissions in Charleston.

Several citizens spoke in support of shore power, including a representative of Charleston Communities for Cruise Control.

“We feel it’s imperative that any new cruise terminal built in this city incorporate the use of shore power,” said Carrie Agnew with Charleston Communities for Cruise Control. “When a cruise ship is here for 10 hours, it doesn’t matter where you’re going or what you’re doing — you can be sitting in your bedroom at home — you’re breathing the air.”

She said she supports Gregorie’s resolution for the future health of children and the elderly population.

“We don’t need better air; we need the best air,” Gregorie said. “I think a world-class city deserves world-class livability.”

Reach Ashley Barker at 843-849-3144 or @AshleyNBarker.

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