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Port Authority pulls plug on shore power concept

The Nanaimo Port Authority is taking a pass on a federal government initiative to install shore power technology at its cruise ship facility.

The Shore Power Technology for Ports Program provides up to $27.2 million in cost-sharing funding between April 1, 2013 and Dec. 31, 2015.

Shore power helps reduce air pollution by allowing ships to turn off diesel engines while docked and connect to a shore-based electrical power supply.

The new program mirrors Transport Canada’s 2007 Marine Shore Power Program, which provided $2 million to the Port of Vancouver for shore power for cruise ships and $1.8 million for the Port of Prince Rupert to support container ships.

Canadian port authorities can apply for funding this spring, but Bernie Dumas, Nanaimo Port Authority president, said the timing is not right to bring shore power to the Harbour City.

“It’s a great idea for the environment and we’re looking at it, but it’s difficult as we would have to beef up our electrical lines and transformers,” he said.

Dumas estimates developing shore power in Nanaimo would be about a $4-million project with the port authority’s share around $2 million.

“That’s quite an expense and not all cruise ships would be able to use it,” he said. “Right now, we’re not sure of its value.”

Five large cruise ships are booked to visit Nanaimo is 2012, nine are confirmed for 2013 and talks are underway with cruise lines for 2014. The port authority’s goal is 20-25 ship visits by 2015.

Meanwhile, there are signs of growth at Nanaimo’s deep-sea terminal.

The port saw an increase in cargo movement in 2011 with lumber volumes the highest they had been since 2008 and representing a 200 per cent increase over 2010 volumes.

Export log volumes increased 87 per cent over 2010 and 167 ships berthed in Nanaimo, up from 100 in 2010.

Dumas said he is encouraged by the growth in what is considered the mainstay exports.

“It’s a solid indication the Vancouver Island lumber industry has stabilized and is growing with the new export demands from the Far East,” he said. “The port is continuing to work on several projects which could come to fruition in 2012 and have a major impact on transportation services available on the Island as well as impacting economic growth and distribution services.”

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