Some American cruise ports use shore-line power–which environmentalists say generates electricity in a cleaner way. However, at the Charleston port, there’s no plans of plugging these cruise ships in, says State Ports Authority spokesperson Byron Miller.
“Ships aren’t set up to be run by shore power. You have the retro system which typically will cost about $1 million to $2 million per ship. Then you have to do the land side, you have to put in your switch boxes and transformers and all that stuff. It’s probably $5.6 million on the land side. Then you have to get the power to the site, which there isn’t enough sufficient power there right now so you have to build a new substation,” says Miller.
Shore-line power is one of the points made by environmentalists and preservationists groups in a recent lawsuit against Carnival Cruise Lines. Citizens and environmental groups claim the cruise ships violated city ordinances by polluting the city and its historical assets. They say this way of generating power, which at least seven other ports use, will make for cleaner air in the city. However, Miller says their complaint doesn’t apply here because of the fuel Carnival uses.
“The fuel is getting a lot cleaner. It’s already clean. Actually, Carnival burns fuel that has about half of the sulfur content that is allowed by federal regulations. So, it’s getting cleaner, but point to the problem: We’ve had 15 months, 16 months sailing from here and you’d be hard pressed to point to one thing that’s a fatal flaw with the business,” says Miller.
Miller says the electrical connection to plug in cruise ships is just not needed. He says the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) says the North American Emission Control area will reduce fine particle emissions by 85 percent–making for cleaner fuel and air.
“Why in the world would you spend those millions and millions of dollars for that extra 15 percent? It’s kind of hard to justify when you could consider the others things you would do with that money at a time of scarce resources,” says Miller.
Miller says the SPA does care about the environment, like the citizens in opposition to the cruises, but he doesn’t think that means the cruise ships should be taken away.