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Shore power for cruise ships getting a closer look in Victoria

Providing a shore power source for docking cruise ships at Ogden Point will be the focus of a study if the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority can find partners to pay for it.

The harbour authority, a non-profit society, still needs $10,000 for the $20,000 study that would determine the price of equipping the facility with a complex electric power source, and whether it has environmental merit.

The system would feed electricity to visiting cruise ships, allowing them to turn off their primary engines while moored.

“We know if it is something that is seen as desirable, there are enormous capital costs and that’ll be one of the big questions,” said Victoria Coun. Pamela Madoff, Victoria’s representative on the GVHA board.

B.C. Hydro would need to upgrade its electrical grid to the tune of $10 million to $11 million, while shore power infrastructure would cost $5 million to $9 million, according to a pre-feasibility study the GVHA completed in April.

Through the new study, the GVHA hopes to learn whether adding the service at Ogden Point would give the port-of-call a competitive advantage over other ports, said Rebecca Penz.

More cruise ships are being retrofitted with this plug-in system, allowing them to cut fuel costs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality when docked. It would also allow them to meet international emissions reduction targets coming next year.

“You have to look at it from a triple bottom line,” Madoff said. “Does it make sense environmentally, does it make sense financially and from a social point of view as well?"

The GVHA hopes to issue a request for proposals within two weeks to hire a consultant who would begin the cost-benefit study by mid-July, said Penz, adding that an end date for the project has not been fixed.

The city of Victoria and the Vancouver Island Health Authority have each committed $5,000 to the study, while the Capital Regional District, a GVHA board member, said it does not have the money in this year's budget, Penz said.

Esquimalt, also a board member, was asked to contribute $5,000.

But some councillors questioned the project’s value to the township, and whether it is fair for Esquimalt taxpayers to foot the same bill as residents of Victoria, which has a higher population.

Council ultimately asked the GVHA to submit a written grant request.

emccracken@vicnews.com

 

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