On Monday, the CBJ Assembly will hear a report from Docks and Harbors on the best way to plug in ships to our clean hydropower so they don’t have to run their generators and pollute downtown while at the dock.
Electrification of the cruise ship docks will be a win-win-win for the community, the environment and the cruise industry. It will clean up the emissions created when cruise ships are at dock, improve air quality downtown and help make Juneau more attractive to residents and visitors alike. Additionally, it’s an important step toward reaching the community’s broader sustainability goals.
Dock electrification has strong local support — it was one of the top actions recommended in the recent Blueprint Downtown planning effort. It has full support from the cruise industry as well as a wide spectrum of community organizations and businesses, as reflected in dozens of letters of support.
For more than a decade, starting with the promotional literature for the bond proposition that funded the new city docks, the CBJ has been promising to get shore power installed.
They’ve got the conduit in place, and in 2016 they conducted a feasibility study. In 2019, the CBJ Assembly appropriated money for engineering work on how best to get it done. On Monday, they’ll likely get a report that is much more than engineering.
While no one, including the CBJ’s Commission on Sustainability, seems to have seen the report, it is likely, based on a prior Docks and Harbor grant application, to point out two major issues – insufficient supply of hydro power and upfront costs. Fortunately, a lot of ground work has been done on both these issues and the community has good options.
As a former assembly member, I know the importance of asking good questions in moving important, community supported projects forward. It is in this context that I encourage the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly to ask probing questions for providing a path forward for dock electrification.
•Kate Troll is a former borough assembly member, an author and a noard member of Renewable Juneau.