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CT Port Authority seeks federal grant for ‘cold ironing’ to reduce ship emissions

The New London State Pier.
Molly Ingram
The New London State Pier.

The Connecticut Port Authority held a special board meeting on Tuesday to discuss a potential $6 million grant from the Environmental Protection Agency.

The money would go toward buying and using shoreside electricity for ships docked at New London’s State Pier. This practice is called ‘cold ironing’ and is part of the EPA’s Clean Ports Program.

John Pauling is the construction lead for Orsted, which is assisting the Port Authority with their grant application. He explained the system.

“Two levels of power requirements; one is for what we call hoteling, which is the basic services of the vessel, maybe its air conditioning and personnel power requirements. But there’s also the ability with the higher degree of power supply to actually service some of the vessels’ needs,” Pauling said. “So, I mean, there are some definite improvements in emissions and of course workforce development and training in anticipation of emissions reductions in the New London area.”

The Port Authority hopes that cold ironing will make State Pier marketable to more than just the wind industry.

The technique is popular in large ports, like Miami and Los Angeles, where high volumes of cruise ships use the service to reduce emissions.

David Pohorylo, a Port Authority board member and maritime industry expert, said the idea is too futuristic.

“Most of the vessels coming in, other than the container ships, you know, the ships are older. They’re 5 or 10 years old, and that’s fairly new for a ship, but there’s no electric power or facilities on the ship they can hook up,” Pohorylo said. “So this may be good in the future, but right now, you’re going to have to consider it exclusively for wind power.”

The service can burden the local electrical grid and increase CO2 emissions if power is generated by fossil fuel instead of renewable energy.

An award-winning freelance reporter/host for WSHU, Brian lives in southeastern Connecticut and covers stories for WSHU across the Eastern side of the state.