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Twenty years ago, Princess and Juneau sparked cruising's shore power trend

Officials from Juneau and from Princess Cruises, including President Jan Swartz and Majestic Princess Capt. Dino Sagani, center, marked the 20th anniversary of shore power there as Majestic Princess hooked up to the local grid
Princess Cruises made history when it began using shore power in Juneau in partnership with the city and Alaska Electric Light and Power Co. in summer 2001.

This was a world first in cruising and sparked a trend.

Reducing visible emissions and the line's carbon footprint

Now, 20 years later when Princess vessels arrive at the Franklin Dock, they continue to plug in to local surplus hydroelectric power and turn off their diesel engines, reducing visible air emissions and the cruise line’s carbon footprint.

The 20th anniversary milestone was recognized as Majestic Princess made its maiden call at Juneau, where it was commissioned to connect to the local electrical grid. (The ship embarked its first Alaska cruise of the season at Seattle on Sunday.)

Princess President Jan Swartz, Majestic Princess Capt. Dino Sagani, Alaska Electric Light and Power Co. President and GM Connie Hulbert and Juneau Mayor Beth Weldon and City Manager Rorie Watt were among the officials on hand.

'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 Co. and the residents of the city and borough of Juneau who have been incredible partners over the last 20 years,' Swartz said. 'Our beneficial collaboration has paved the way for the cruise industry to reduce air emissions and allow cruise ships to plug in.’

$8.5m credit benefits Juneau

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 benefited the Juneau community by $8.5m.

Hulbert called the implementaton of shore power two decades ago a 'remarkable accomplishment,' adding: 'We are proud that our remote city, with our own isolated electric grid, [was] 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.'

All 14 Princess ships outfitted for shore power

Princess has outfitted all 14 of its ships with custom-built hardware and automation that automatically connects the shipboard electrical network to the grid ashore. Power is transmitted from the transformer ashore to the vessel via multiple 3.5-inch diameter flexible electrical cables on the dock. (In Juneau, the cables hang festoon-style on a special gantry system designed to accommodate the 25-foot rise and fall of the tide and to withstand the 100 mph winds during the winter.) The actual cable connection on the vessel is a traditional, though quite large, plug and socket.

It takes approximately 40 minutes after a ship has been secured at the dock to connect the ship to shore power and shut down the diesel generator. From then, the ship relies on the local power system for all electrical needs while alongside.

$15m in equipment alone

The shore power hookup results from a multimillion-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 $15m in equipment alone to enable its vessels to connect to shore power.

Each year, Princess ships plug in to more than 300 shore power connections.

More lines and ports

Shore power is now used by various cruise lines at ports including Seattle (starting in 2005), Vancouver, BC (2009), San Diego (2010), San Francisco (2010), Los Angeles (2011); Halifax (2014) and Brooklyn (2016), as well as Montréal; Kristiansand, Norway; Hamburg (via LNG barge), Kiel and Rostock-Warnemünde, Germany; Incheon, South Korea; and Shanghai

Among others, this year, Port of Southampton's Mayflower terminal and its newly opened Horizon terminal are expected to offer shore power, while Flåm, Norway, plans to do so starting in 2022, and PortMiami's target is 2024.

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