- Terelle Jerricks
SAN PEDRO — On Oct. 25, Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal hosted the Select Committee on Ports, an informational session about port energy, at the Port of Los Angeles board room in San Pedro.
The hearing, called “Port Energy: Powering the Future of Goods Movement,” examined the present and future power need of California’s ports from the perspective of the ports, business partners and utility providers. The hearing also considered how green technologies would address port needs and maintain levels of competition.
Representatives from the ports of Long Beach, Los Angeles, San Diego and Oakland, as well as representatives of the California Association of Port Authorities and the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association, discussed the demands for power in the ports. The need for balance is at the heart of those demands, speakers said. To strike the balance between sources of power some restrictions and regulations, such as those for hydroelectric power sources must be eased, they said.
Spokesmen and heads of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Southern California Edison, Clean Energy and Southern California also gave their input. Among some of the topics of discussion, the group discussed the importance of cold ironing, a process of providing shoreside electrical power to berthed ships while the main and auxiliary engines are turned off, as a way for port tenants to take advantage of special rates. In addition, the utility companies touched upon the importance of remaining competitive especially with the upcoming expansion of the Panamá Canal.
The Aquamarine Institute and Port Tech LA heads presented their perspectives on the moving the ports toward a more sustainable future.
Green technology innovators, Total Transportation Inc. and TransPower, presented their prospects to the legislative committee. Energy storage, power conversion, and power control and distribution were among some of their offerings. One example of these future technologies is a proposed rail saver concept consisting of a battery fuel car that provides energy for locomotion, supplements diesel locomotion and enables zero-emission operation for up to 150 miles.
The way it work is — let’s say — a train leaves from the Port of Los Angeles; it could run on a battery within one of its cars until it reaches Victorville, lessening the pollutants on the Harbor and metropolis. Once it travels the 150 miles (Victorville) it would turn on the engine, which in turn would recharge the batteries.
Innovators said these technologies need subsidies because the technology is not fully mature and the payback don’t fit in for the quick return that venture capitalists, which take a few years in the automotive industry to go from concept to tested and reliable vehicles.
The subsidies need not be government subsidies, they can come from utility companies, TransPower President Mike Simon. They are asking government to fund the development. Once they demonstrate that it is sound technology, the cost savings will be apparent, Total Transportation Services Inc. CEO Vic LaRosa said.
“It’s a bet on the future,” Simon said. “That’s why you don’t put all your money in one technology.”
But Assemblyman Brian Nestand, District 64, and Assemblyman Steven Bradford, District 51, weren’t quite convinced.
“I just don’t think the subsidies should continue to come from ratepayers,” said Bradford, who noted that utility subsidies would be passed on to the ratepayer. “Every technology shouldn’t be entitled to a subsidy, and at the end of the day … your gonna ask the utility to pay for it. The utility will never pay for it. I’m not knocking the presentation.”
The hearing came on the heals of POLA having earned an environmental award from Containerization International, a global trade publication that held its awards in London. The award also highlighted the port’s hosting of the 2012 Pacific Ports Clean Air Collaborative Conference, which drew participants from around the world to discuss green supply chain strategies and environmental innovations and for being the first seaport to adopt the Environmental Ship Index program, which rewards ocean carriers for bringing their newest and cleanest vessels to the Port. The Port was also recognized for its ongoing implementation of various initiatives under the Clean Air Action Plan, the precedent-setting initiative that has led to dramatic reductions in port emissions since 2005.
The award recognized the significant strides the port has made to facilitate global trade through facility modernization and cultivation of new technologies, and for its commitment to environmental initiatives for reducing emissions and improving water quality. The award also recognized many of the port’s environmental programs, including its leadership in helping ports worldwide measure and reduce their carbon footprints; the port’s green leasing policy that includes environmental requirements as part of tenant lease agreements; and the Port’s role in developing the World Ports Climate Initiative, a global collaboration of approximately 60 ports aimed at reducing greenhouse gases and improving air quality.