SF Opens up Green Power Grid to Boats

By Matt Baume
|  Thursday, Oct 21, 2010  |  Updated 12:17 PM PDT
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SF Opens up Green Power Grid to Boats

NY Waterways will operate out of a new ferry terminal at Battery Park City.

Anyone who's watched the picturesque ferries chugging across the bay has probably noticed that there's something not-so-picturesque about them: plumes of exhaust.

In an effort to cut down on emissions in the Bay, San Francisco has unveiled technology to connect boats to the city's power grid. Only three other ports in the world offer such a feature, with Los Angeles and San Diego expecting to follow suit soon. It took five years to make San Francisco's new electrical connection possible.

Shoreside power officially debuted at Pier 27, connecting the Island Princess cruise ship to the new power source.

Although some electricity is generated through dirty sources like coal, the power for the boats comes from zero-emission turbines placed throughout the Hetch Hetchy water system. The energy is generated through gravity, and doesn't require the burning of fossil fuels. Air pollution is estimated to cause 9,000 premature deaths per year in California.

Green technology has been a lifeline for California industry. Since 2006, the state has attracted over $11 billion in green tech venture capital, according to a new study. That investment is expected to accelerate.

Meanwhile, fossil-fuel companies like Valero and Tesoro are campaigning for Prop 23, which would make it easier for them to release airborne toxins. Despite the multi-billion-dollar investment, Prop 23's backers claim that clean energy is a job killer. Uh ... okay.

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