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. However, city officials are hoping to get a federal grant to add electrified docks.(Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Plugging into federal money

City OKs match for potential electric docks grant

Juneau’s quest to add additional electrified cruise ship docks took a step forward on Monday.

In a special meeting, City and Borough of Juneau Assembly members voted to authorize a 20% local match — about $4.9 million — to a federal grant city officials are pursuing as part of the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainably and Equity Grant program.

If approved, the grant would pay for about 80% of the cost to design, purchase, install and maintain shore tie power connections to both municipally-owned cruise ship berths and docks owned by the City and Borough of Juneau. City officials estimate the total project cost for the required municipal infrastructure and power transformation is approximately $21 million, according to a memo shared with assembly members.

Juneau Docks and Harbors port director Carl Uchytil told assembly members that he’s optimistic about Juneau’s prospects of winning the grant.

“We know there will be a lot of competition with the rural category. We are optimistic because of Biden’s focus on climate change. We feel like we have a strong opportunity to be successful,” he said.

Boating accidents, casualties expectedly high in 2020

Plugging into the opportunity

In mid-June, assembly members passed a resolution supporting the project. A rapidly approaching grant deadline meant that city officials needed to set a non-binding dollar contribution quickly.

“I move that we offer to fund 20% of the project,” said Maria Gladziszewski, assembly member. “I’m certainly willing to put in 20%. We’d be hard-pressed to get the full amount otherwise.”

Under the federal rules, Juneau is considered a rural community and is not required to pledge local dollars when bidding for federal grants. However, Deputy City Manager Mila Cosgrove told assembly members that a local match does enhance the application’s scoring when federal officials review the request.

Other assembly members agreed with Gladziszewski’s sentiment but questioned the dollar amount.

“The community has spoken that they want it. I’m just not sure they want us to dedicate $5 million today,” said Mayor Beth Weldon.

However, an amendment to reduce the local match to $3.5 million failed.

“The number I want is the smallest number that will get us the grant,” Gladziszewski said. “But, we are a community with the ability to provide this match. I’m super confident that this is something the people of Juneau really want. We have the capability to do it.”

Assembly member Wade Bryson agreed.

“Our community has overwhelmingly asked for dock electrification,” Bryson said. For years people have asked for this. We have plenty of opportunities to pay this back. This is an excellent return on investment to get a 4-1 federal match on our project. Lots of positives for the community with very few drawbacks. I’d like to put out every advantage we possibly can. It’s irresponsible not to.”

Assembly member Loren Jones noted his objection to pledging local funds to the project as he explained his no vote.

“Future assemblies may have to come up with whatever match this assembly comes up with. I have real concerns about obligating this kind of future issue and problem on future assemblies,” Jones said.

Weldon joined Jones in voting no on the measure. But, the motion did pass with five members voting yes. Assembly members Carole Triem and Alicia Hughes-Skandijs were absent.

Other electrified docks

Currently, there is one electrified dock in Juneau, the privately owned South Franklin dock. In 2001, it was the first of its kind in the world.

New cruise ship dock project moves ahead

In addition to electrifying city-owned docks, more electric docks may be on the horizon for Juneau.

Representatives for Norwegian Cruise Lines, the company seeking to build a new cruise ship dock on its waterfront property on Egan Drive, have said that dock electrification is a priority for the project.

Proponents of dock electrification point out that electric docks reduce pollution from cruise ships and other marine vessels by replacing diesel fuel with clean, renewable energy.

Additionally, according to the resolution passed by the city, CBJ consistently receives public comments concerning emissions caused by cruise ships, and the Visitor Industry Task Force recommended that CBJ prioritize electrification of all cruise ship docks.

• Contact reporter Dana Zigmund at dana.zigmund@juneauempire.com or 907-308-4891.

More in News

Jasmine Chavez, a crew member aboard the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship, waves to her family during a cell phone conversation after disembarking from the ship at Marine Park on May 10. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for the week of May 18

Here’s what to expect this week.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Tuesday, May 21, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

A Shell station in Anchorage. (Nathaniel Herz/Northern Journal)
Shell abandons North Slope oil leases, raising questions about the industry’s future in Alaska

Experts say some of the state’s hard-to-tap oil prospects are becoming less attractive.

Tom Abbas discusses the hose his boat needs as shop owner and vintage halibut jacket provider Jim Geraghty shows his customer the options. Racks of dry-cleaned woolen jackets hang among the marine supply aisles in Gerahgty’s Lemon Creek business. (Laurie Craig / Juneau Empire)
Coats of many colors: Halibut jackets make a big splash again

“Pre-owned” wool garments from many decades ago being tracked down for resale by Juneau marine shop.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Monday, May 20, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

The Columbia state ferry sails through Lynn Canal on Monday, April 29, 2019. (Alex McCarthy / Juneau Empire file photo)
Columbia ferry out of service until end of the year

51-year-old ship has been out of service since November; corrosion in fire system cited for delay.

Jennifer Brown plays the drum while Jarrell Williams dances at an MMIP rally on the Alaska State Capitol steps on May 5. (Claire Stremple/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska lawmakers approve additional support for addressing missing and murdered Indigenous people

Cultural training for law enforcement officers and dedicated MMIP investigators among updates.

Rep. Sara Hannan (left) and Rep. Andi Story, both Juneau Democrats, talk during a break in floor debate Sunday, May 12, at the Alaska State Capitol. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Juneau’s legislative delegation reflects on lots of small items with big impacts passed during session

Public radio for remote communities, merit scholarships, fishing loans among lower-profile successes

Gov. Mike Dunleavy speaks about his vision for Alaska’s energy future at the Connecting the Arctic conference held in Anchorage on Monday. Next to him is Alberta Premier Danielle Smith, invited to Anchorage to speak at this week’s Alaska Sustainable Energy Conference. (Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)
Gov. Dunleavy examining energy bills passed by Alaska Legislature

Expresses optimism about carbon storage bill, pondering next steps on royalty relief that failed.

Most Read