The Holland America Line Eurodam pulls into Juneau’s downtown harbor heading for the city-owned dock on Monday, May 6, 2019. The privately owned South Franklin Dock, foreground, is currently the only dock set up to provide electric power to a ship while at berth in Juneau. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

The Holland America Line Eurodam pulls into Juneau’s downtown harbor heading for the city-owned dock on Monday, May 6, 2019. The privately owned South Franklin Dock, foreground, is currently the only dock set up to provide electric power to a ship while at berth in Juneau. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Committee makes ‘electrifying’ decision

Shore power conversation dominates finance meeting

More spending for shore power was plugged into the city’s prospective budget.

The City and Borough of Juneau Assembly Finance Committee decided Wednesday night to increase the amount of Marine Passenger Fee money set to be spent on expanding shore power for ships berthed in Juneau to $300,000 instead of $250,000.

The increased total also came with a revised title for the spending. Instead of large berth shore power feasibility/system impact analysis, the $300,000 will go toward large berth shore power preliminary design and cost estimate.

“I’m supportive of shore power, the sooner the better,” said Assembly member Maria Gladziszewski. “Whatever you call it, I could care less as long as you figure out how you would do it.”

[Live: Finance committee discusses Marine Passenger Fee usage]

Marine Passenger Fee funds are generated by a $5 per cruise ship passenger fee collected by the city, and shore power allows ships to be powered by city electricity while at a city dock. That allows the ship to turn of its engine and decreases emissions.

There is one electrified dock in Juneau. In 2001, it was the first of its kind in the world.

Mayor Beth Weldon and the Assembly were vocal in their support for shore power during discussion, and the motion that netted the cause a new name and an additional $50,000 passed without objection.

Increased spending on shore power was a popular cause during the public comment period for spending marine passenger fees.

Renewable Juneau, a local environmental advocacy group, circulated a petition that collected 800 signatures in favor of spending on shore power.

“The Renewable Juneau board is pleased with the direction provided by the Assembly and their addressing public concerns about the ‘feasibility’ study,” said Renewable Juneau board member Andy Romanoff when reached by email. “While we’re concerned that the funding isn’t enough to do full design work, we feel that it’s a good start.”

He said he looks forward to seeing the matter progress, and it was heartening the Assembly took notice of the petition.

Renewable Juneau was critical of conducting another feasibility study when one was done in 2016. Romanoff, who was not present at the committee meeting, previously questioned the accuracy of that study’s finding that electrifying a single dock would cost $12.9 million.

[Could there be fewer idling ships in Juneau]

Some of that sentiment was echoed by Assembly members, including Wade Bryson, who questioned the necessity of a second study when it seemed the entire Assembly was in favor of pursuing shore power.

City Manager Rorie Watt said there are still some fundamental questions about how expanded shore power would affect Juneau — such as whether cruise lines would be interruptible customers — that will need to be answered as the city moves forward.

Watt said he and city employees will need answers to questions likely to come from the Assembly and public leading up to a decision, and that will take efforts similar to a study even if it’s not called that.

Assembly members including Carole Triem and Michelle Bonnet Hale, who introduced similar amendments that ultimately were combined into the passing motion, agreed that there are definitely unanswered questions about what expanded shore power will look like in Juneau but that cutting down on emissions from idling ships is an Assembly goal.

City Manager Rorie Watt and Assembly members Michelle Bonnet Hale and Carole Triem work out an amendment to proposed Marine Passenger Fee spending. (Ben Hohenstatt | Juneau Empire)

City Manager Rorie Watt and Assembly members Michelle Bonnet Hale and Carole Triem work out an amendment to proposed Marine Passenger Fee spending. (Ben Hohenstatt | Juneau Empire)

“I don’t want to continue to delay dock electrification, but there are some real issues that have been identified,” Hale said.

Other progress toward a budget

The finance committee made some strides toward setting a a budget for fiscal year 2020.

Next week, pending budget items will be discussed and testimony will be expected from people connected to the Southeast Conference, mental health and substance abuse, Glory Hall, a land purchase for senior housing and a healing totem intended to be erected on Aiding Women in Abuse and Rape Emergencies property.

Additionally, three items totalling almost $300,000 related to child care were moved to the pending list.

Assembly members said testimony would not be needed at the May 15 meeting.


• Contact reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.


More in News

Even as coronavirus numbers are going down and vaccines are being distributed, pandemic-related facilities like the testing site at Juneau International Airport, seen here in this Oct. 12 file photo, are scheduled to remain for some time, according to city health officials. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire file)
Vaccines are coming, but pandemic facilities will remain

Testing sites and other COVID-19 operations will continue, officials say, but infections are trending down.

After violent protesters loyal to President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol today, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, left, and Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., join other senators as they return to the House chamber to continue the joint session of the House and Senate and count the Electoral College votes cast in November's election, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Murkowski on impeachment: ‘I will listen carefully’ to both sides

As for timing, the senator said, “our priority this week must be to ensure safety in Washington, D.C.”

Juneau City Hall. The City and Borough of Juneau has distributed nearly $5 million in household and individual assistance grants since October. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
All housing and most personal assistance grants processed

About $5 million in aid is flowing to households and individuals in Juneau.

A child plays at Capital School Park. The park is in line for a remodel that will fix the crumbling retaining wall, visible in the background. (Dana Zigmund / Juneau Empire)
A new life is in store for Capital School Park

Public input is helping craft a vision for the park’s voter-approved facelift.

Expected heavy snow and high winds Thursday evening prompted Alaska’s Department of Transportation and Public Facilities to issue a warning of increased avalanche hazard along Thane Road. (File photo)
Avalanche risk increasing along Thane Road

Be careful and plan for the possibility of an extended road closure.

White House, tribes joined to deliver Alaska Native vaccines

The initiative has treated Indigenous tribes as sovereign governments and set aside special vaccine shipments.

This 2020 electron microscope image provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories shows SARS-CoV-2 virus particles which causes COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells cultured in a lab. On Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, the top U.S. public health agency said that coronavirus can spread greater distances through the air than 6 feet, particularly in poorly ventilated and enclosed spaces. But agency officials continued to say such spread is uncommon, and current social distancing guidelines still make sense. (NIAID-RML via AP)
COVID at a glance for Friday, Jan. 8

The most recent state and local numbers.

Federal report says pandemic hit seafood industry hard

Catch brought to the docks fell 29% over the course of the first seven months of the year.

The Juneau Police Department and other law enforcement agencies say they are prepared for the possibility of political violence at the Capitol building on the day of the presidential inauguration. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
No known threats of violence, but police say they’re prepared

“The Juneau Police Department and our partners have not received any specific threats,” the agency said.

Most Read