Island has plenty of power to plug in cruise ships: B.C. Hydro

There’s plenty of power on Vancouver Island for a proposed shore-power facility for cruise ships at Ogden Point, according to B.C. Hydro.

Ted Olynyk, B.C. Hydro’s Island spokesman, said with new submarine cables carrying power from the Lower Mainland, combined with conservation programs, there is “more than enough capacity” to meet the load of such a facility.

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“While the load would be a large distribution [of power], it would be intermittent use, usually in the summer when demand is quite low,” he said.

“The issue is not capacity, but rather configuration of the system to provide supply.”

Pressure has been building for years in Victoria to establish shore power to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions from the ships when they are in port. Cruise ships currently must idle in port to provide power.

A report released this week, produced for the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority, noted greenhouse-gas emissions from the Ogden Point cruise-ship terminal have increased 19 per cent since 2010 to more than 12,000 tonnes annually, the equivalent of 3,241 vehicles on the road per year.

At the same time, cruise-ship visits have increased to 243 in 2018 from 219 in 2010.

Ian Robertson, chief executive of the harbour authority, said there is probably a good business case for shore power, and committed to speaking with B.C. Hydro in the next few weeks to determine if it is a feasible project.

Robertson said they will need to develop a business plan and approach the cruise-ship industry and governments of all levels for funding.

Neither the harbour authority nor B.C. Hydro could put a dollar figure on the cost of shore power at Ogden Point, although a 2012 study suggested one onshore connection would cost $13 million. That estimate is now deemed to be out of date.

Olynyk said it’s not as big a project as some might think. A new feeder, or distribution line, either underground or undersea, would be required and would come from either the Esquimalt substation or Horsey substation near Mayfair shopping centre. A new substation in James Bay, where Ogden Point is located, is likely not required.

The Island gets most of its power via new undersea cables, which provide 3,200 megawatts of power at any one time.

About 753 megawatts are generated on the Island.

Peak demand on the Island, during a winter cold snap for example, can reach about 2,200 megawatts.

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