The Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners gave preliminary approval to two incentives that officials expect will bring additional cargo to the Port while also encouraging the use of air pollution-reducing shore power and on-dock rail.
The incentives are designed to help the Port compete with other West Coast ports that have already cut fees to grow their business. By encouraging the use of shore power or another approved system for cutting at-berth ship emissions, and by bringing more cargo via on-dock rail, the Long Beach programs seek to increase trade while also reducing air pollution.
In one incentive, the Port will waive “dockage” charges payable to the Port of Long Beach – essentially giving free parking – for cargo ships that both slow down near the Port and plug into shore power or use another approved pollution-cutting technology at berth. The Vessel Dockage Waiver Program augments other Port and state programs that require and encourage slow-steaming and shore power.
Also given preliminary approval was a $5-per-container unit incentive that shipping lines can earn for each new loaded container they bring through Long Beach. The requirement is that each container must travel inland by “on-dock rail,” which helps to eliminate truck trips on local roadways by rail-hauling the containers from the wharf.
“We are really in competition with Vancouver, with Prince Rupert, with Lazaro Cardenas, where costs are much lower than San Pedro Bay,” said Board of Harbor Commissioners President Doug Drummond, referencing seaports in Canada and Mexico. “These incentives are important because they have to do with increasing cargo for our Port and are hitting at a time when cargo across the board is increasing.”
The Board of Harbor Commissioners is scheduled to consider the incentives for final approval at its meeting June 23.
The Vessel Dockage Waiver Program requires the vessel operator to slow down within 40 nautical miles of the Port. The vessel operator is also required then to use shore power at berth or a certified alternative. By waiving the dockage fees in such cases, the Port will forgo an estimated $3.3 million to $4.9 million a year. But the measure is expected to attract additional cargo to Long Beach, and help to offset the costs with an increase in revenue from other fees. The incentive builds upon a Port program in which most ships reduce speeds near Port and a state program where at least half of all ships must use shore power or an equivalent at berth.
The Incremental On-Dock Intermodal Incentive Program will pay $5 per loaded 20-foot-equivalent container unit for new cargo above the 2013 baseline level that is also rail-hauled either out of, or into, the Port. If vessels bring an additional 20 percent more cargo over two years, it would generate an additional $22 million in revenue for the Port.