Ports throughout the Western Hemisphere are showing leadership by undertaking energy-related projects aimed at increasing their renewable portfolio and positioning themselves for long-term sustainability
By Meredith Martino
The issue of energy is one that cuts across port management roles and departments. Energy efficiency and cost savings are topics that pique the interest of financial officers and operations managers, while green energy sources are a focus of port environmental managers. When it comes to the topic of energy reliability, risk managers and engineers may be driving the discussion. As more cargo-handling equipment and vessels utilize aging land-based electricity delivery systems, the idea of energy security and grid infrastructure may rise to the concern of the executive team. And for any port that has had the misfortune of staring down a post-natural disaster recovery, the issue of energy is one of the most pressing that must be addressed to get facilities back on line and resume port operations.
With these cross-cutting ideas in mind, ports are beginning to adopt energy policies that attempt to address and align these various and diverse aspects of an increasingly complex issue. In southern California, the Port of Long Beach and the Port of Los Angeles have adopted or are developing comprehensive policies that attempt to position themselves and their customers on solid ground related to energy use, efficiency, infrastructure, reliability and resiliency.
Throughout the Western Hemisphere, ports such as the Port of Seattle, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the Hamilton Port Authority are showing leadership related to energy efficiency and conservation. And ports elsewhere are undertaking energy-related projects aimed at increasing their renewable portfolio and positioning their organization for long-term sustainability.
Southern California Grappling with the Big Picture
The Port of Long Beach established The Port of Long Beach Energy Policy in May 2013 by a unanimous vote of its Board of Harbor Commissioners. The policy lays out the port’s commitment to energy efficiency, conservation, resiliency and renewable energy generation. The goals of the policy are to reduce the port’s reliance on limited natural resources, work with customers for mutually beneficial improvements to energy choices and infrastructure, promote energy conservation and efficiency, optimize generation of alternative and renewable energy, foster innovative energy technologies and ensure a safe and reliable energy supply to support continuity of port operations.
Rick Cameron, acting managing director of environmental affairs and planning at the Port of Long Beach explained, “One key feature of our energy program is that it will be largely customer-driven. As a landlord port, our administrative energy use is almost negligible compared with our tenants.
We’re going to work with our customers to find out what they need and how to support them in getting it. We understand that, among other environmental initiatives, shore-side power
is extremely expensive and, because it’s not required across the country, puts our tenants at a potentially competitive disadvantage. Helping them find energy savings elsewhere is one of the main goals of the energy program.”
Port of Los Angeles staff announced development of an Energy Management Action Plan, or E-MAP, in June 2013. Elements of the E-MAP include assessing the port’s existing and future power demands developing a contingency plan for resuming operations in the event of an unexpected loss in power and creating an Energy Technology Advancement Program.
“Development of the port’s new Energy Management Plan (E-MAP) will allow us to plan for how we can provide more efficient, higher quality energy service to our tenants and customers,” said Chris Cannon, director of environmental management at the Port of Los Angeles. “This will be very important as the port grows in the years to come, especially with increasing use of shore power due to state regulations, and the anticipated emergence of automated terminals, as well as zero emission trucks and cargo handling equipment.”
The two San Pedro Bay area ports participated in a workshop on June 3 that brought together power companies, marine terminal operators, academic researchers and others. Organized by the Aquamarine Institute, the event focused on energy resiliency, energy efficiency, reliability, quality and cost.
Focusing on Efficiency and Conservation
While the policies in place in southern California cut across a broad range of issues, including those focused on the reliability and resiliency of power infrastructure, many other ports have energy policies in place, especially related to conservation, efficiency and green power sources.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has a long-standing port-wide commitment to reducing energy use and dependence on fossil fuel-generated power to reduce emissions, increase efficiency and reduce costs. The port authority performs energy planning to advance such goals; the agency is working on a number of innovative programs to promote energy conservation and green technology, including market-based approaches to funding and advancing energy projects.
Renewable energy projects focus on wind, biomass and fuel cells. Related to energy conservation, the port authority has performed online reverse auctions for retail supply of its 250 electricity accounts, reducing annual utility costs by approximately $2.2 million. The port agency’s demand on the grid during peak times.
On the West Coast, the Port of Seattle has a vision to be “the nation’s leading green and energy-efficient port.” Energy efficiency is the focus of two efforts at the Port of Seattle: the port’s headquarters building at Pier 69 is Energy Star-recognized, and at its Terminal 46 facility, 630 older flood lamp fixtures have been replaced with 300 energy-efficient high-pressure sodium vapor lamps.
In late 2000, the port authority’s facilities management team began an energy conservation project at Pier 69. By 2010, energy usage had been reduced by 50 percent, saving approximately 2.38 million kilowatt hours annually. At Terminal 46, the new lamps comply with International Dark-Sky Association guidelines that permit use of outdoor lights for safety and security while reducing the negative effects of night lighting. Together, the energy savings at Pier 69 and Terminal 46 yield a cost savings of approximately $300,000 annually for the Port of Seattle.
In the Great Lakes, the Hamilton Port Authority (HPA) was honored earlier this year with a Horizon Utilities Energy Excellence Award for a project that replaced sodium vapor light fixtures for high efficiency light fixtures and motion sensors. The retrofit is expected to result in annual savings of around 940,000 kWh and the project is expected to pay for itself within a year. Funding for the retrofit came from HPA’s ongoing Green Initiatives program, which sets aside funding for projects that reduce energy consumption.
Choosing Green Power
Many other ports have made commitments to choosing renewable energy sources for some or all of their facilities. The Port of Portland has partnered with Nike and Delta to install solar panels on the canopy of Portland International Airport. The panels supply 100 percent of the PDX Nike Store’s needs. The display in the store includes a video that illustrates the partnership and real-time solar activity – best viewed during daylight hours.
On the other side of the country, the South Jersey Port Corporation’s Green Port Initiative focuses a number of activities to reduce the port’s environmental footprint and engage its partners and neighbors in a region-wide sustainability project. The SJPC is exploring the possibility of installing a solar array of up to 1.1 million square feet at its terminals to produce an estimate 10 million kilowatt hours of renewable energy each year.
In Canada, the Toronto Port Authority (TPA) reaffirmed its commitment to utilizing 100 percent “green power” sources from local energy provider Bullfrog Power. Bullfrog’s electricity comes exclusively from wind and hydro facilities that have been certified as low impact by Environment Canada under its EcoLogoM program.
Since 2010, TPA has chosen to purchase green energy for its facilities, including Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, the Port of Toronto and Outer Harbor Marina.