Princess Cruises made history when the cruise line introduced its revolutionary shore power program and began operations in partnership with the City and Borough of Juneau and Alaska Electric Light and Power Company in the summer of 2001. Now, 20 years later when Princess Cruises vessels arrive at the Franklin Dock, ships continue to “plug in” to local surplus hydroelectric power and turn off the diesel engines, reducing the impact of visible air emissions and the cruise line’s carbon footprint in an effort applauded by local government officials and the residents of the capital city.
The 20th anniversary milestone was recognized as Majestic Princess made her maiden call to the port of Juneau and commissioned to connect to the Juneau electrical grid. Princess Cruises President Jan Swartz, Majestic Princess Captain Dino Sagani, Alaska Electric Light and Power Company President and General Manager Connie Hulbert and Juneau Mayor Beth Weldon and City Manager Rorie Watt were in attendance.
“Shore power in Juneau has been a significant win-win situation, not only for Princess but also for the customers of Alaska Electric Light and Power Company and the residents of the City and Borough of Juneau who have been incredible partners over the last 20 years,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises president. “Our beneficial collaboration has paved the way for the cruise industry to reduce air emissions and allow cruise ships to ‘plug in.’”
In addition to this investment, for the past 20 years, every dollar spent by Princess for purchasing electrical energy in Juneau has been credited to a cost of power adjustment, or COPA account. This credit is used to offset any diesel expenses in the next quarter, and any extra funds go back to residents and businesses in Juneau in the form of a rebate on electric bills. To date, this has benefitted the Juneau community by $8.5 million dollars.
“The implementation of shore power in Juneau 20 years ago was a truly remarkable accomplishment and this first-of-its-kind program became a reality in our capital city through our partnership with Princess,” said Connie Hulbert, Alaska Electric, Light and Power Company president and general manager. “We are proud that our remote city, with our own isolated electric grid, is the first place in the world to use this innovative technology for passenger vessels, which has provided economic and environmental benefits to the community of Juneau”
Shore power, also known as “cold ironing,” enables ships to connect to local electric power and turn off their diesel engines. The specialized shore side equipment includes a specially designed transformer, and a sophisticated system of cables, circuit breakers and control circuits. Shore-based electricity then runs all onboard services during the day-long calls.
To create this unusual power system, Princess has outfitted all 14 of its ships with custom-built hardware and automation that automatically connects the ship’s electrical network to the local electrical network ashore. The electrical power is transmitted from the transformer ashore to the vessel via multiple 3 ½-inch diameter flexible electrical cables on the dock. (In Juneau, the cables hang festooning-style on a special gantry system designed to accommodate the 25-foot rise and fall of the tide and withstand the 100 mph Juneau winds during the winter.) The actual cable connection on the vessel is a traditional, though quite large, plug and socket.
The shore power hookup is the result of a multi-million-dollar investment to build a sophisticated power distribution system designed to help clear the air of accumulated haze in the port area. Since 2001, Princess has invested more than $15 million in equipment alone to enable its vessels to connect to shore power.
Each year, Princess ships plug in more than 300 shore power connections. This ground-breaking technology has now grown and is used by various cruise lines in port cities including Seattle (2005), Vancouver (2009), San Diego (2010), San Francisco (2010), Los Angeles (2011), New York (2012) and Halifax (2014), as well as internationally in Shanghai and Kristiansand, Norway, with more and more port cities becoming shore power enabled.
The length of time needed to connect a ship to shore power and shut down the vessel’s diesel generator is approximately 40 minutes after the ship has been secured at the dock. Once connected, the ship’s engines are powered down and the ships relies on the local power system for all ship’s services while in port.